By Dylan Deprey
The frequent interruption of political commercials flashing every two minutes may have faded following the presidential election, but there is another campaign brewing in Wisconsin, and students’ education is on the frontlines.
The race for 2017 State Superintendent of Public Instruction is heating up as John Humphries kicked off his campaign at Coffee Makes You Black on Milwaukee’s north side on Nov. 15.
Humphries is the forth candidate in the race running against incumbent Superintendent Dr. Tony Evers, who has been in office since 2009. The other candidates include Jeff Holmes, Lowell Holtz and Remy Gomez.
The State Superintendent of Public Instruction is a four-year term, and is responsible for leading Wisconsin Public School Districts as well as providing information to the public about management, attendance and performance.
The Superintendent is also responsible for licensing the state’s teachers, and receiving and disbursing federal aid funds for schools.
“No offense to the current administration, but after 16 years we cannot continue to do the same thing we have been doing, we need change and that is now,” said recently re-elected State Representative Jason Fields (DMilwaukee).
Rep. Fields is co-chair of Humphries bipartisan campaign committee, which also includes Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt. (R-Fon Du Lac).
While working as a teacher for the past two decades in public and private schools in both the richest and poorest districts across the state, removing politics from education is a one of Humphries’ visions to improve education.
“The message is clear, we can bridge the partisanship divide and come together as Wisconsinites and find genuine solutions for students by doing something we haven’t done well in years, and that’s listen to each other,” Humphries said.
Other points on Humphries’ agenda include ensuring accountability for results for students from Pre-K through College, and empowering local parents and educators by ensuring DPI is the partner they need to put their child on the path to success.
“Our children have suffered for decades from stagnant achievement due to a lack of vision and innovation,” Humphries said.
He noted that when Evers took office 16 years ago, Wisconsin was top 10 across the country for reading. Today, Wisconsin’s 4th graders are 25th in the nation in reading, and the achievement gaps are the worst in the nation.
Incumbent Superintendent Evers goals as part of his “Every Child a Graduate, College and Career Ready” vision are to increase graduation rate from 85.7 percent to 92 percent, close graduation and career and college readiness gaps. Evers also introduced the Fair Funding for our Future school-financing plan in his 2015-2017 state education budget.
Prior to working as Superintendent, Evers worked in public education for over 30 years and has pushed for advancement in schooling.
So, what happens when two former teachers working to improve Wisconsin’s education, one protecting his position and the other looking for change, fight for the same spot? Wisconsin will have to wait and see as the campaigns roll out for the primary election Feb. 21, 2017.
“This won’t be easy – defeating an incumbent never is. But I’m not doing this because I thought it would be easy. I’m doing this because it’s right. It’s right for Wisconsin. It’s right for Wisconsin’s children. And it’s right because we’ve got the best solutions,” Humphries said.