The Will of the People Doesn’t Seem to Be with Trump and DeVos on School Privatization
On Tuesday, Tony Evers was elected by Wisconsin voters to his third term as state superintendent of schools, and he wasn’t merely re-elected. It was a tsunami. Evers carried 70 percent of the vote and his opponent, Lowell Holtz, only 30 percent.
Why is Tony Evers’ re-election as Wisconsin state superintendent of schools so remarkable? Well… Wisconsin is one of 25 super-majority Republican, trifecta states: Governor Scott Walker is an outspoken, far-right Republican, and both houses of the legislature boast huge Republican majorities. Wisconsin is the home of the nation’s oldest school voucher program in Milwaukee, then Racine, and, in 2013, expanded statewide. It is the state where, back in 2011, Governor Scott Walker and his legislature severely limited collective bargaining for public employees including teachers. It is a state whose legislature is now also considering an ALEC-designed plan for Education Savings Accounts—yet another kind of school vouchers. It is the state where Governor Walker tried to re-write the mission statement of its flagship university to emphasize job training and delete this clause: “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.” And it is the home of Reince Priebus.
So what happened in Tuesday’s election for state schools superintendent? Here is Scott Bauer of the Associated Press explaining the election of Evers over his opponent, Lowell Holtz: “The win keeps Evers in place as the only Democratic-backed statewide official in a meaningful office. Even though the race is officially nonpartisan, Evers had strong support from Democrats along with state and national teachers’ unions who favored his positions in support of increased funding for public schools and opposition to private school vouchers… Evers and Holtz disagreed on almost every major issue that’s come up in the campaign. Evers opposes expanding the private school choice program and supports Common Core academic standards, increasing funding for public schools and addressing teacher shortages across the state… Both candidates supported Walker’s budget sending $650 million more to schools. But they disagreed on Walker’s requirement that the bulk of that money be tied to schools that require employees to pay at least 12 percent of their health care costs. Evers opposes the provision, while Holtz backs it.”