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Friday, 24 March 2017 11:42

Editor's blog: Stark contrast in Wisconsin school superintendent race

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As the only statewide race on the ballot April 4, 2017 the contest for Wisconsin superintendent of public instruction has received more attention than usual.

Current Superintendent Tony Evers is running for his third term as head of the state Department of Public Instruction and is facing Dr. Lowell Holtz, former district superintendent for the School District of Beloit and the Whitnall School District southwest of Milwaukee.

The men advanced to the spring general election following the February primary.

(Read the Evers preview HERE I Read the Holtz preview HERE)

Although the position technically is nonpartisan, Democrats and their allies have lined up to support Evers, while Republican and conservative groups have thrown their support to Holtz.

(Compete spring 2017 election coverage is HERE.)

The candidates have crisscrossed the state, appearing together at a variety of public forums, even while Holtz has been dogged by a number of controversies going back to the primary.

In February, Holtz’s primary opponent John Humphries said that he met with Holtz about a deal that would give Humphries a Department of Public Instruction job if Humphries dropped out of the race and Holtz went on to win.

Holtz said the plan was merely an idea presented to him by a group of unnamed business people.

The liberal advocacy group One Wisconsin Now filed a complaint about the job offer scheme, but on March 15 the Wisconsin Elections Commission rejected it.

In a statement, Holtz called the advocacy group a "hit squad" for Evers.

Then a week ago, newly released personnel records from the School District of Beloit revealed that while Holtz was repeatedly praised for his work as an educator and his engagement with the community, some board members were concerned about the district’s consideration of Holtz’s wife for a full-time administrator position.

The personnel records were obtained through a freedom of information request by the Wisconsin State Journal and One Wisconsin Now.

However, Holtz told the Wisconsin State Journal last week that he had no involvement in the decision to interview his wife for the position. She later withdrew her name.  

Despite the back and forth between the campaigns on the controversies, there are strong policy differences between the candidates.

Among the key issues are voucher expansion, school funding and the Common Core educational standards.

The candidates address these issues in the accompanying profiles.

~Dan Plutchak, editor



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