MMSD School Board Candidate
In Defense of Teachers
By Jonathan Gramling
Michael Flores grew up on the east side of Madison and graduated from Madison East
High School, a true blue Purgolder. He laughs as we sip coffee at Cargo Coffee about
living in the LaFollette attendance area now and contemplates his children being Lancers.
“I wrestled some of the LaFollette teams and so, I still get shell shocked with the
burgundy,” Flores said. “But it’s my children’s time now and I’m here to do whatever I can
to make it better for my children.”
As a Madison fire fighter, Flores has been able to stay involved with his children and split
the child caring duties with his wife.
“My wife and I have been fortunate enough to alternate our schedules, so we raised our
kids,” Flores said. “We did not need a babysitter or a day care, which brings a slue of
issues, not to say that there aren’t great day care centers out there. But we know what our
kids are doing and learning. That was very nice. I take pride in helping raise my children.
There were a few growing pains not knowing what to do and getting beyond the
stereotypes of guys not being involved.”
Michael Flores, a Madison fire fighter, is
married and has three children in Madison
It is Flores’ dual roles as actively-engaged father and fire fighter that have allowed him to become very familiar with Madison’s schools.
“I’m out in the schools, whether it is reading to the kids or chaperoning the field trips with other parents and the teachers,” Flores said. “I
like having access to the school and being able to see my kids in action. I’m very fortunate that I am able to do so. I’ve also been trying
to catch up on some of the issues and seeing the schools in action, so I have been pretty proactive visiting the schools throughout the
city as well. Also as a fire fighter, we have our months where we do safety training. We get to access the schools and be in the schools.
Teachers and parents say, ‘Hey can you stop- and make a presentation at my kid’s school?’ And I am more than glad to along with the
other fire fighters. We are always glad to inform the kids about fire safety.”
Through his regular interactions with the schools, Flores has also developed a profound respect for teachers and the modern classroom.
“I was fortunate enough that I had teachers who went above and beyond in the school district,” Flores said. “They really tried to reach out
for the kids. I’ve seen that movement progress where it seems that the community is more involved in the learning. I know that there are
issues, but I know our teachers are out there working hard to resolve those issues. Information is getting around about different ways of
educating kids. They are being evaluated and looked at. We’re not the nuclear family any more. Kids have different stresses and
demands on their lives. They come from single family households and foster homes. They also come from two-parent homes, but both
parents are working because they earn low wages and the only way that they can provide is for both parents to work full-time. We’re
getting more latch-key kids. I like the movement of community. I want to continue elaborating on it and take advantage of those programs
for those kids who don’t have the support that they need. Some of the changes have been the different styles of learning and
accommodating the kids that we are seeing.”
It was February 2011 when Governor Walker stripped most public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights that Flores
became more politically active. Although his fire fighters union wasn’t affected by Walker’s measures, he was out at the State Capitol in
solidarity with the teachers and other public employees.
“I was proudly out there marching in support of the teachers last year with my kids,” Flores recalled. “People impugned the teachers
because they saw them as glorified babysitters rather than as educators. From my perspective, it was one of the greatest teachable
moments that they brought to my kids. And I was proud to stand with them. I have a number of photos with my kids and some of their
teachers at the rallies. I am very proud. I think as a community and as a nation, we are really pushing our teachers down and off to the
side while they produce the most important product that we have, which is our future, our kids. They influence them. They empower them
to achieve to their full potential. And we place more emphasis on politicians and lawyers. I’m not saying that they don’t do an important
service, but educators have a direct hand on our kids and who they are going to be.”
And all people, in Flores’ view, needs to be supportive of the students regardless of their socio-economic background.
“People are losing their jobs,” Flores emphasized. “They don’t have the financial support. The kids don’t have the financial support that
they may need. So I think that we as a community really need to focus and lend a hand without putting anyone down for seeking help.
KIids are smart. They read any negative input. And I think that breeds anger and resentment. I can see kids disconnecting from the school
because of that. And when the barriers go up, it is harder for the kids to learn.”
Flores also feels that the adult acrimony over issues like Madison Prep is counter productive for the children. And that is why he is
running for the school board.
“I saw this as a great opportunity to influence change on the school board in a positive way and keep the focus on what is best for and
help our kids instead of we adults arguing with each other over little things,” Flores emphasized.
For Flores, election to the school board would be a continuation of his lifetime of commitment to public service.