In his annual state of education address, Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction called out the state government, suggesting that education is becoming increasingly politicized in the state as he argued against a decision to make his job an appointed position, saying the move is an attack on democracy and history.
Representative Joe Sanfelippo recently suggested a change to the state constitution that would change the superintendent position from being an elected state officer to one appointed by the Governor. State Superintendent Tony Evers addressed the idea in his speech, calling it "a sad attack at the heart of our democracy," and saying that the move would undermine teachers and students.
"The impact the ongoing assault on public education happening in this state and across the nation may make for great political theater, but it's making it more and more difficult for our teachers to stay the course," Evers said. "I support the basic promise that they said in 1848 and that is – we value public education enough in this state and consider it so important that the people of the state have to elect the state superintendent," he added.
Evers went on to outline a number of educational priorities for Wisconsin, including holding schools accountable for preparing students for college and life beyond, closing the achievement gap that currently exists between white and minority students, and renewing the push that would change the way schools are funded.
Evers discussed the successes within public schools and libraries in the state over the past six years, including the rising graduation rate, decrease in student dropouts, decline in truancy rates, and increase in participation in extra-curricular activities.
Sanfelippo responded to the address with a statement saying he would be introducing more bills an effort to reduce the size of DPI and lessen its authority over local schools, reports Greg Neumann for WKOW. In order to do so, he said he plans to reallocate the $137 million operating budget for school districts around Wisconsin to receive more funding.
"Imagine how much better off our students – our future workforce – would be if we eliminated the excessive overhead at DPI and put that funding directly into the classrooms," Sanfelippo said in the statement. "We'd be able to shift more money to the local school districts, who know the needs of their students and teachers the best."