Election and K-12 Governance Commentary

Jessie Opoien:

Two Republican leaders in the state Legislature said Wednesday that state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers — a Democrat challenging Republican Gov. Scott Walker in November — didn’t take the lead on urging lawmakers to pass legislation making it easier to revoke the licenses of teachers who behave inappropriately.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, told reporters there is no evidence that Evers made an effort to change the standards for license revocation, as Evers has said he did. The lawmakers’ phone call with reporters followed the release of a statewide TV ad by Walker’s campaign attacking Evers on the issue.

Evers’ campaign manager, Maggie Gau, said the attacks from Walker and his legislative colleagues are “gross lies.”

“Without any ability to run on his record and troubling poll numbers, Walker’s re-election strategy is clear: rely on disgusting, dishonest and increasingly desperate attacks to try and distract from his eight years of failure in Wisconsin,” Gau said in an email. “The people of Wisconsin know Tony has spent his lifetime doing what is best for our kids, that he followed the law, and when a loophole in the law on teacher licenses needed to be changed, he worked with both parties to toughen the law so any offending teacher now would lose their license to teach.”

The Walker ad, launched Wednesday, revisits a 2009 case involving a middle school teacher who viewed sexually explicit images on his school computer and, according to a report compiled by the Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District, made comments about the bodies of female students and co-workers.