The potentially controversial race for the Wisconsin state superintendent of public instruction was narrowed on Tuesday after students and community members alike turned out to the polls to vote in the 2017 spring primary election.

Voters also decided who will compete for Seats 6 and 7 of the Madison Metropolitan School Board.

Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Tony Evers

Tony Evers is the incumbent candidate in this election. According to a column he penned for The Cap Times, Evers said schools throughout the state face challenges due to poverty and an increasing shortage of teachers. These issues are decades old, Evers said, and require consistent leadership. He said he has worked with people around the state to find common ground and address these issues and others like them.

The financial burden currently on communities to fund schools is unsustainable, he said. He added this is not a partisan issue and he is committed to ensuring public schools can provide for all students.

DPI Superintendant on educationIn the middle of controversy and skepticism surrounding Common Core State Standards and voucher schools, State Superintendent Tony Evers said Read…

Lowell Holtz

Lowell Holtz emerged from the February primary victorious over fellow conservative challenger John Humphries. Holtz will now face Evers in the general election.

Holtz identified three major areas in his platform he plans to address if he is elected to the position. The first area is to “advance and embrace local control.” Here, he said he plans to eliminate Common Core, an English-language and mathematics standardized test in the education system, which he says is not good for children. He also said he plans to support school choice for families.

Holtz also noted graduation rates and the achievement gap between white and black students as major areas in need of improvement in the state. During his time in Beloit, he was able to work with the community to decrease the achievement gap and increased achievement scores.

The final area of his plan is focused on empowering teachers in the state. Holtz said administrative burdens and a negative culture have driven teachers to leave the profession. He plans to collaborate with schools and teachers throughout the state to create safe environments in classrooms and give power back to teachers. Holtz said he has done this many times before in when he has led districts.

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Holtz and Humphries scandal

According to the Wisconsin State Journal, Holtz proposed to Humphries that one of them drop out of the race and receive a $150,000 taxpayer-funded job.

The job would be with the Department of Public Instruction if either Holtz or Humphries beat Evers in the general election. Holtz said this proposal was for the two to consider after the primary election, but Humphries disagreed with this. Humphries said Holtz meant for them to weigh in on the proposal before the primary election.

Several experts in the article said there are no state laws that prohibit such proposal. But DPI spokesperson Tom McCarthy said the powers in the proposal do not actually exist in the state law, according to the article.

Madison School Board Seat 6

Ali Mudrow

As a former student in the Madison Metropolitan School District, Ali Muldrow said she plans to use her experiences as a student in the district to deal with the issues MMSD is facing, according to The Cap Times. Muldrow said she expects a push from the federal government to privatize education, according to the article. New funds for education, she added, will most likely be through vouchers and charter schools.

Schools are being underfunded at the state level, Muldrow said, and teachers are leaving the profession as well as the state. Muldrow said she will fight against these threats and work to keep schools well-resourced. Muldrow said she is supported by a diverse community, including Michael Flores, who is leaving his school board seat.

Ali Muldrow, a queer, black woman, is campaigning for Seat 6 on the Madison School Board.
Courtesy of GSAFE

Kate Toews

With prior experience in Boston Public Schools and in the business world, Mudrow’s contender, Kate Toews, is looking to recreate public education in Madison.

According to The Cap Times, the former BPS mediation services coordinator wants to combine her background in business management and conflict resolution to make sure money is being invested in the right places to create a “well-resourced district.”

One investment Toews sees as critical, is the need to support better working conditions for teachers. In investing in teachers, Toews said she believes it will create greater engagement between educators and their students.

Madison School Board Seat 7

Ed Hughes

Incumbent candidate Ed Hughes said in a Cap Times article that the number one challenge is the achievement gap in the district. There is no simple solution to this problem, Hughes said, but focusing on attendance, enhanced family engagement practices and improving transition from fifth to sixth grade and eighth to ninth grade may help close the gap. Hughes said these efforts will require resources which he has previously been able to deliver. He helped pass a $26 million referendum and freed up $9 million for school use that was originally locked up in downtown developments.

Madison ballot to let voters decide $26 million school district budget referendumIn additional to the candidate races, Madisonians will be able to cast a vote supporting or opposing the $26 million Read…

Nicki Vander Meulen

Growing up with a disability has never been a setback for juvenile defense attorney Nicki Vander Meulen. Now, she wants other students, regardless of their disabilities and circumstances, to feel the same way, according to The Cap Times.

With a background in juvenile law, Vander Meulen said she hopes to expand opportunities for students exhibiting at-risk behaviors. Primarily working with underrepresented students, she said she would like to reevaluate MMSD’s Behavior Education Plan and work on growing more peer mentoring and restorative justice initiatives within the district.

Instead of using the “same measure” for the entire classroom, Vander Meulen wants to urge educators to take into account the strengths and weaknesses of each individual student.

All of the candidates will compete for their respective seats April 4 in the general election.