Evers calls for restoring respect for Wisconsin’s schools and educators

Wisconsin must restore respect for Wisconsin’s public schools and educators and listen to teachers and education support professionals, who have the best interests of students at heart, State  Superintendent Tony Evers said Thursday in his annual State of Education Address.

“Our educators are on the front lines of these challenges,” he said “So when they speak up about bad education policy, deteriorating schools, or the massive teacher exodus we’re facing, they’re doing right by our kids. And we should listen. They’re reminding us that education – like democracy – doesn’t come for free. It must be nurtured, sustained, and invested in over time.”

Evers called for reinvesting in public schools, “so that every kid can thrive.”

“Together,” he said, “we can bring civility and collaboration back to public education and to public life.”

Evers said education remains – as it has always been – “the great equalizer” and the pathway to prosperity, as well as the key to a skilled workforce and a robust economy.

But, he said, Wisconsin’s priorities are out of whack.

“Today in Wisconsin we’re spending less on our public schools than we did eight years ago – putting us below the national average. We serve over 50,000 English learners – and that number is growing. We serve over 120,000 special needs students. Four in every 10 kids are economically disadvantaged. 

“A decade of disinvestment hasn’t magically solved problems, increased student performance, or improved our competitive edge. Divisive solutions from Washington and Madison haven’t made things better. These policies are failing us. But the people of Wisconsin know there’s a better way.”

Evers noted that over the past few years, more than 1.1 million residents throughout the state rallied behind public education and voted to raise their own taxes to support their schools. 

“Now is the time to adopt a transformational education budget that responds to this call,” he said. “A budget that provides educators what they deserve: the resources they need to meet the needs of our kids. A budget that increases opportunities, closes gaps, and allows for competitive compensation. 

“We must continue raising our voices until they can no longer be ignored,” Evers concluded. “Together, we can restore respect for Wisconsin schools and educators. Together, we can reinvest in our schools so that every kid can thrive. Together, we can bring civility and collaboration back to public education and to public life.”

Read more about Evers’ budget proposal:

Evers’ budget plan increases public school funding by $1.4 billion, achieves two-thirds state funding of schools

Evers’ budget plan increases public school funding by $1.4 billion, achieves two-thirds state funding of schools

State Superintendent Tony Evers on Sunday unveiled a state education budget proposal that increases state funding of public K-12 schools by $1.4 billion over the next two years and achieves two-thirds state funding of education. 

“The budget I’m submitting responds to the very real challenges our schools and educators face each and every day,” Evers said. “It changes how we fund our schools and provides resources to our educators to meet the needs of every child.”

Specifically, the budget: 

  • Makes an unprecedented $600 million investment in special education, increasing the reimbursement rate from 25 percent to 60 percent, while expanding funding for English learners and rural schools.
  • Provides nearly $64 million more for student mental health funding, a tenfold increase.
  • Funds full-day 4-year-old kindergarten for the state’s youngest learners, creates the state’s first funding stream for after-school programs, and establishes new opportunities for children in the largest urban school districts.
  • Reforms the state’s broken school finance system to help districts of all sizes, including revenue limit fairness so lower spending districts can catch up and all districts can plan for the future. 

“Our students deserve our support as they prepare to inherit this great state,” Evers said. “As parents, fellow educators, taxpayers, and citizens of Wisconsin, I ask for your support during the 2019-21 biennial budget process so that every child gets a shot at a great Wisconsin education.” 

State budget highlights:

2019-21 State Budget Information

State Superintendent Tony Evers is rolling out major budget requests for the 2019-2021 biennium. Information will be added here as it becomes ready. Topics:

Read more:

Tony Evers calls for nearly $1.7 billion hike in state funding for K-12 schools

Wisconsin’s K-12 public schools would receive a nearly $1.7 billion increase in state funding over the current budget cycle under state Superintendent Tony Evers’ two-year budget proposal released Sunday. Evers, the Democrat challenging Gov. Scott Walker in the Nov.


Evers to face Walker on November 6

Tony Evers

State Superintendent Tony Evers will face Scott Walker in the November 6 election for Wisconsin governor. Evers handily won the eight-candidate Democratic Primary election Tuesday. On the Republican side, Walker easily defeated little known Robert Meyer of Sun Prairie.

In an email to supporters after winning the nomination, Evers said:

“This race is a choice between 4 more years of Scott Walker putting Scott Walker first, or a new governor focused on making decisions in the best interest of real Wisconsin families — who deserve access to good healthcare, safe roads and high quality public education.”

In other races on Tuesday:

  • Lieutenant Governor: Democrat Rep. Mandela Barnes of Milwaukee will be paired with Evers as the lieutenant governor candidate. Incumbent Republican Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch was uncontested in the primary.
  • State Treasurer: Businesswoman Sarah Godlewski, who was recommended by the WEAC Board, won the Democratic nomination for State Treasurer. The Republican candidate will be Travis Hartwig.
  • Secretary of State: Incumbent Doug La Follette won the Democratic nomination. Republican businessman Jay Schroeder will challenge La Follette in November.
  • U.S. Senate: Republican State Senator Leah Vukmir of Brookfield advanced to take on Democratic U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin in November.

Read about other Primary Election results:

Election results: Wisconsin and Milwaukee-area August 2018 primary election

Wisconsin and Milwaukee-area residents head to the polls on August 14 to vote in a number of contested state and local primary races. Here’s who’s on the ballot.

More Resources:

Evers says his ‘transformational budget’ will fund 4-year-old kindergarten for all students and achieve two-thirds state funding of schools

State Superintendent Tony Evers said Wednesday that he will propose a “transformational budget” that provides full funding of 4-year-old kindergarten and achieve the state’s longtime commitment of funding two-thirds the cost of local public schools “without any gimmicks while holding the line on taxes.”

“No more false choices. There’s a better way, and that is the high road,” Evers said in opening remarks at the Wisconsin Public Education Network Summer Summit at Appleton North High School.

“We need to prioritize mental health, we need to shatter the decade-long freeze on special education funding, we need to reform our broken school funding system, and we need to restore and expand crucial student support services,” Evers said.

WEAC President Ron Martin welcomed Evers’ proposals, adding, “Investing in our public schools is essential to building a strong Wisconsin. For the past seven years we have – under the current governor – experienced extreme cuts to our public schools that have hurt our schools and kids while contributing to the low morale of educators. These proposals by State Superintendent Evers begin the process of turning that around.”

Evers reiterated his proposals to increase student mental health funding tenfold, direct unused school safety funds to student mental health services and shatter the decades-long freeze on special education funding by increasing funding 163%.

“Your leadership on this issue has to happen,” he said. “We need this reality.”

Saying that Wisconsin’ school funding formula has been broken for a long time, Evers said that in order to fix it, “it is time to do more than just shuffle the deck chairs, it has to increase opportunities to close those achievement gaps for kids.”

To address the achievement gaps, Evers said his budget proposal will include:

  • Funds to provide full-day 4-year-old kindergarten for all students in Wisconsin.
  • An unprecedented $20 million state investment in expanding and supporting high-quality after-school programs. “We all know our students need many caring, stable adults in their lives to nurture them, to help them be safe and to reach their full potential,” and these after-school programs will be “difference-makers,” especially in rural areas, he said.
  • Increase the low revenue ceilings so all districts – not just a few – can catch up. “There is no reason that in some districts a kid is supported by $18,000 while in another district by $9,600. That is patently unfair.”

In thanking Summer Summit attendees for their work in support of public schools, Evers said, “Advocacy around public schools has never been more important. We can make a huge difference in our kids’ lives. This is the year we can make that happen.”


Voters demonstrate strong support for public schools by re-electing Evers, passing school referendums

Wisconsin voters again expressed their strong support for public schools Tuesday by overwhelmingly re-electing State Superintendent Tony Evers and passing the large majority of school referendums.

“As they have done many times before, Wisconsin residents on Tuesday sent a strong message that they want quality public education for their children,” said WEAC President Ron Martin. “They not only re-elected public school advocate Tony Evers by a large majority, they rejected the policies of his opponent, who supported expansion of private school charters and vouchers at the expense of public schools. And their support for local school referendums throughout the state adds an exclamation mark to their statement that they love their public schools.”

Evers was re-elected with 70% of the vote, while voters again agreed to raise raise their own taxes to support public schools. Results showed that 40 of 65 school referendums (61.5%) passed, including the two largest in Verona and Green Bay (see complete results here). School districts are increasingly turning to local school referendums to finance education as state funding for public school declines. Last year, voters approved 122 referendums.

Following his clear election victory, Evers said he believes the real winners are Wisconsin’s 860,000 public school kids. “The little girl in Altoona who loves playing her clarinet, the fourth grader in Greenfield who is excited about his computer class, and the kid from Three Lakes who is driven to invent and comes to school every day to work in the Fab Lab,” he said.

“I believe in public education and I am proud of where we are today. We have high graduation rates, suspensions are down, attendance is up, and the number of kids earning college credit in high school is at an all-time high.”

Evers said that with both the federal and state budgets in process, “it is clear now, more than ever, we will have to continue to fight for public education and the resources our kids need.”

Listen to Tony Evers’ Election Night comments:

State Supt. Evers Election Night Address

Stream State Supt. Evers Election Night Address by wispolitics from desktop or your mobile device

Read more:

Tony Evers sails into third term as Wisconsin education chief

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers sailed into a third term on Tuesday, easily defeating challenger Lowell Holtz. The Associated Press called the race about 35 minutes after the polls closed at 8 p.m. The victory positions Evers to move forward on an agenda that calls for increasing public school funding by more than $700 million.

Advocacy at the local level is generating strong support for public schools, Evers says

State Superintendent Tony Evers addresses the 2017 WEAC Professional Issues Conference.

State Superintendent Tony Evers addresses the 2017 WEAC Professional Issues Conference.

The advocacy work of educators and citizens at the local level is generating enormous support for public education throughout the state, State Superintendent Tony Evers said Saturday in an address to the WEAC Professional Issues Conference.

Evers, who is running for re-election on April 4, noted that in last fall’s election, 84% of school referendums in Wisconsin were approved – and most by huge margins.

“The same people who had anxiety about their own lot in life, the same people who didn’t like government much, the same people who voted for Donald Trump, voted to increase taxes on themselves to make sure their public schools would stay strong,” he said.

When you combine last fall’s election results with those from last April, he said, “600,000 people in the state of Wisconsin voted to increase taxes on themselves to make sure their public schools stay strong.”

“That’s a lot of people, and I can guarantee you at least half of them were Republicans,” Evers said. “So, what that tells me is that our communities support their public schools, period. It’s not a Democrat issue, it’s not a Republican issue, it’s a kid issue.”

Superior citizens, for example, voted last April by a huge margin to raise their taxes by $100 million despite fact the community is going through difficult times.

Evers said he would love to take credit for such results, but, he said, “It’s the local teachers, the local kids, the local parents that have consistently convinced their local folks that public schools are the most important thing for them whether they have kids in public schools or not.”

However, funding public schools through referendums is not sustainable and we must increase state funding for schools, he said.

Evers said we should never be ashamed to ask for more money for public education, and continuous pressure at the local level will make a difference, as evidenced by the fact that  Governor Walker this year is proposing more money for public education, which contrasts with his past budgets.

“This movement, this change in rhetoric from some of our leaders, from the governor and Legislature, it happened because of pressure from you local folks,” Evers said. “We absolutely have changed that conversation, but we changed it at the local level, it did not happen at the state level.”

Evers also said it’s important when distributing state funding to local schools to address equity and make sure communities with kids who are struggling the most get more money.

Citing the growing teacher shortage in Wisconsin, Evers also said it’s important that we “change the rhetoric around our profession” to attract more young people and retain quality educators.

The answer, he said, is not to “dumb down” the profession but to change the way we as a society talk about teaching and education and restore respect to the profession. “This kind of animosity that has been brought on by Act 10 and continued thus far, we just have to change the rhetoric, and I know we can.”

WEAC President Ron Martin addresses the Opening Session of the 2017 WEAC Professional Issues Conference March 3 in Madison. Joining him at the head table are WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen and Emily Sibilski, President-Elect of the Aspiring Educators of Wisconsin.

WEAC President Ron Martin addresses the Opening Session of the 2017 WEAC Professional Issues Conference March 3 in Madison. Joining him at the head table are WEAC Vice President Peggy Wirtz-Olsen and Emily Sibilski, President of the Aspiring Educators of Wisconsin.

Images from the Professional Issues Conference:

Evers says Act 10 ‘turned off a generation of people who want to become teachers’

The 2011 state law known as Act 10 that stripped educators of their collective bargaining rights and reduced their voice in the classroom has “turned off a generation of people who want to become teachers,” State Superintendent Tony Evers said Monday at a pre-election forum.

Evers said the law “made a hell of a big difference,’ and blamed it for a growing shortage of teachers in Wisconsin.

At a forum sponsored by WisPolitics.com, Evers also said the governor’s state budget proposal to tie a boost in state school aid to a local school district’s compliance with provisions of the Act 10 is “a significant overreach by the state.”

Evers noted that some school districts have found cooperative ways to work with their staff to solve budget issues. According to a WisPolitics report on the forum, Evers noted that Monona Grove teachers had been paying 12 percent toward their health care, as required by Act 10, but achieved savings by switching plans and subsequently reduced the amount staff had to contribute.

“Is that right as a state to say: ‘Well, you shouldn’t be doing that?’” Evers asked at the Milwaukee forum, which featured the two candidates who are seeking the post of State Superintendent in the April 4 election – incumbent Evers and challenger Lowell Holtz.

Also at the forum, Evers said he was “fearful” about how U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will use her “bully pulpit” as secretary.

He said if DeVos comes to Milwaukee to visit a high-achieving voucher school, she should also visit public schools.

“She better go to both,” Evers said. “And she better talk about both in a positive way. She represents all kids, all 680,000 public school kids in the state of Wisconsin, and we need her to be an advocate for those kids.”

Both candidates said they support repeal of the current law that prohibits school districts from starting the school year before September 1.

Following the forum, Evers called for an investigation into Holtz’s use of his school district email account for campaign purposes. Read more about this controversy.

Read more from WisPolitics.com:

Evers, Holtz differ on Act 10, Walker’s budget at WisPolitics.com forum

Candidates for state superintendent at a WisPolitics.com forum in Milwaukee disagreed about Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to make a proposed boost in per-pupil school aid contingent on compliance with Act 10.

Read more from the Wisconsin State Journal:

Tony Evers, Lowell Holtz debate effect of Act 10 on state teacher supply

MILWAUKEE — Candidates seeking to oversee the state’s schools on Monday disagreed on whether Gov. Scott Walker’s signature legislation curtailing collective bargaining for public school teachers was good for schools in the two final candidates’ first public forum.

Read more from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Wisconsin superintendent candidates weigh in on Betsy DeVos role

State Superintendent Tony Evers on Monday called for the new U.S. secretary of education to use her bully pulpit in the Trump administration’s Cabinet to advocate for all schools, not just the charter and voucher schools she has championed.



Evers says wide margin of victory in primary reflects state’s commitment to public schools

Incumbent Tony Evers, who garnered nearly 70 percent of the vote in a three-way primary race for State Superintendent Tuesday, said his large margin of victory reflects the commitment of Wisconsin residents to quality public education.

“And more importantly, I really tried in this election, thus far and I’m going to continue, to focus on the 860,000 public school kids and their needs and try to avoid the issue of this policy and that policy and focus on kids,” Evers said, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Lowell Hotz, who came in second place with just 23 percent of the vote and will face Evers in the April 4 general election, is a strong supporter of taxpayer-financed private voucher schools and privately run charter schools and is a supporter of President Donald Trump’s controversial pro-privatization U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Evers told WisPolitics.com he didn’t know if reports of a possible secret deal between Holtz and the other challenger, John Humphries (who garnered just 7 percent of the vote), affected the outcome of the primary. But he said “people in Wisconsin value trustworthiness and integrity.”

“I think this worked against both of them,” Evers told WisPolitics. “I never guessed this race would have that role in it.” WisPolitics went on to report:

And he added that because both his primary opponents “engaged in untrustworthy behavior,” the issue could still dog Holtz as the two head into the general election.

Evers “fully anticipates” outside money will come in during the general election to help Holtz, especially from groups that support school choice, and “will play a role in this race.”

“We’ll be working twice as hard as we were going into this race” in anticipation of the challenge that money would pose, Evers said.

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Read more in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Tony Evers, Lowell Holtz easily advances out of Wisconsin DPI superintendent primary

Two-term Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers was the clear front-runner in Tuesday’s primary election, earning the right to defend his seat in the April election. The Associated Press reported that he would advance, as will former Beloit and Whitnall Superintendent Lowell Holtz. Evers, who is seeking a third four-year term, had about 60% around 8:30 p.m.

Read more in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Tony Evers, Lowell Holtz advance in state superintendent race

State Superintendent Tony Evers easily advanced through Tuesday’s primary election and will face Lowell Holtz in the April 4 general election. Evers, seeking a third term as state superintendent, garnered more than 60 percent of the votes cast on Tuesday as of 8:30 p.m., before votes in liberal Dane County were tallied.

Evers says teachers should have greater voice in school decisions

State Superintendent Tony Evers says he wants to reinvigorate the teaching profession by providing teachers with a greater voice in decision making processes.

“The issue of teachers is important, and a lot of it has to do with the way we treated the profession and portrayed the profession,” Evers said last week in a meeting with Sauk County Democrats, according to a report in the Baraboo News Republic. “We can fix that, and it’s free. Our politicians need to stop denigrating the profession.”

According to the report, Evers also said he was surprised that Governor Walker proposed a $650 million increase in state support for public schools as part of his 2017-19 state budget proposal. Evers had requested a $700 million increase in his state budget request.

“He called me a week before he delivered the budget and left a message saying, ‘You’re going to be surprised this year,’ and I was,” Evers said. “There’s all sorts of hooks there, I’m not going to sugar coat that, but we’re at a point where the trajectory is good.”

Evers is seeking a third term as state superintendent in Tuesday’s (February 21) primary election. Lowell Holtz and John Humphries, who are both advocates for expansion of private school vouchers, are challenging Evers. Holtz and Humphries have been involved in a controversy over reports that they have discussed schemes whereby one would drop out of the race in exchange for a high-paying taxpayer-funded government job after the election, should the other challenger win. The general election is April 4.

Read more about Evers’ meeting with Sauk County Democrats in the Baraboo News Republic:

State’s top educator says public support on the rise

Wisconsin’s top education official told Sauk County Democrats on Thursday that a $650 million increase in state support for public education included in Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget proposal caught him by surprise.

Read an opinion piece about the election by John Nichols in the Capital Times:

John Nichols: Tony Evers vs. the DeVos candidates

When Donald Trump nominated billionaire campaign donor Betsy DeVos to serve as secretary of education, advocates for public education were aghast. Diane Ravitch, the education historian who served as George Herbert Walker Bush’s assistant secretary of education, argued: “The previous Republican administrations did not threaten the very existence of public education and teachers unions.

In new videos, Evers highlights the power of arts in education

State Superintendent Tony Evers promotes the importance of arts education for local communities in a new one-minute video message. Intermingled with his own words are excerpts from four video profiles, featuring students for whom arts education has made a tremendous impact.

In his video message, Evers emphasizes that arts are essential in a comprehensive education, helping students become happier, more confident, and more engaged in school:

Student profiles:

The four students – all from Beloit Memorial High School where arts programming is strong in numerous areas – participated in on-camera interviews during a visit to their school by State Superintendent Tony Evers.