The Capital Times supports public education in Wisconsin.
We believe that strong public schools, in every corner of this state, in every community of this state, are essential to social and economic progress. And we believe that a strong public education system is the essential underpinning of democracy.
We see the linkages between public elementary and secondary schools and colleges and universities. We want to maintain and strengthen them. And we believe that it is vital that public resources are committed to that purpose. It has been heartbreaking to see the assaults on public school teachers and on public schools in recent years by Wisconsin elected officials — including Gov. Scott Walker — who play petty political games with the future of our state’s students and our state’s communities.
What gives us hope, however, is that one of the finest educators in Wisconsin has refused to back down in these difficult times. Indeed, he has stepped up, again and again and again, to defend teachers, schools and public education. And he has often succeeded.
We dread to think how bad things might have gotten in Wisconsin if Tony Evers was not the state superintendent of public instruction.
We know that, because he has been superintendent, things are better than they would have been. And we know that Evers has the vision, the energy and the commitment to make them better in the years to come.
The Capital Times supported Tony Evers eight years ago when he was first elected as state superintendent of public instruction.
The Capital Times supported Evers again four years ago, when he was easily re-elected to a second term.
The Capital Times supports Evers again this year, as he seeks a third term.
Remarkably, in each of the three races Evers has run, the choice has gotten easier. He has always been superior to his opponents, in experience and in vision. A native of Plymouth, he has deeps roots in the Wisconsin public school tradition and a passionate commitment to its advancement.
He has been an elementary school teacher, an elementary principal, a high school principal, a school district superintendent, and an administrator of a Cooperative Educational Service Agency. He was a deputy superintendent of public instruction before he was elected to the top job. And he has served admirably, working across lines of ideology and partisanship, embracing innovation and promoting flexibility. His accomplishments are many: adopting new rigorous academic standards, reforming and modernizing student testing, developing a fair and functional teacher evaluation system, and reinvigorating career and technical education.
At a time when struggles over school funding remain intense — and challenging — Evers has stood strong for fair, sustainable and transparent funding for Wisconsin schools. And as some Republicans are beginning to recognize that deep cuts to school funding have done severe damage, Evers is at the ready to work with anyone who is prepared to strengthen public education in Wisconsin.
The challenger Evers has drawn in the April 4 spring election, Lowell Holtz, has experience as an administrator. He’s run before and we think it is valuable that he is making this year’s race a competitive one. But we can’t see how he would be an improvement on Evers.
Holtz’s record has been a controversial one, and folks are still trying to sort out the claim by a candidate in the primary, John Humphries, that Holtz offered to drop out of the race in exchange for a promise of a $150,000-a-year job in a potential Humphries administration, plus a driver and the power to take over urban school districts.
Holtz does not inspire confidence.
The bottom line for Evers has always been absolutely clear: He is committed to public education in Wisconsin and he is willing to work with anyone who shares that commitment. He is 100 percent prepared to lead the Department of Public Instruction in the years to come. And that is what is needed — now more than ever.
Make no mistake, the future of public education is on the ballot this spring in Wisconsin. In addition to deciding competitive school board races in Madison and hundreds of other communities, voters will select the top official for our state's K-12 system — and if they choose Evers they will be signaling their support for public education, adequate funding of schools, and respect for this state’s outstanding teachers.
That’s important, since education is at a crossroads in Wisconsin. In recent years, Walker and his allies have not made support for schools across Wisconsin a priority, and they have been particularly dismissive of the unique needs and concerns of rural school districts. Walker seems to be loosening up on the issue, but not sufficiently. And, at the same time, out-of-state special interests and their pawns in the Legislature continue to promote wrongheaded “school choice” schemes that threaten to divert more money from needed programs, undermine accountability, and blur the focus of policymaking.
With Betsy DeVos, a supporter of many of the worst “school choice” proposals, now heading the U.S. Department of Education, and with President Trump proposing to dramatically cut federal education spending, the stakes are getting higher — and the choices are getting starker.
The choice that Wisconsinites make on April 4 with regard to educational priorities will be of profound significance to students and parents, teachers and taxpayers, and rural and urban communities across the state. That choice must be for Tony Evers.
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