MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Incumbent state Superintendent Tony Evers has defeated challenger Lowell Holtz to win a third term as Wisconsin's top education official.
Evers easily beat Holtz on Tuesday in the only statewide race on the spring ballot. He will continue in his job running the Department of Public Instruction, which administers education policy to all 424 public schools in Wisconsin. Evers had nearly three-times as many votes as Holtz based on unofficial results.
Evers had support from teachers' unions and Democrats in the officially nonpartisan race. He supports Common Core academic standards, opposes private school vouchers and backs Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal to increase K-12 funding by $650 million.
Evers also defended his record trying to close the achievement gap, which stood as the worst in the nation.
Complete statement from Tony Evers:
I’m grateful for tonight’s results. First, I just want to thank my wife Kathy, my family, my supporters and everyone who came out to vote today. I’ve received enormous support in this campaign, and it has been truly heartwarming. I also want to acknowledge Dr. Holtz -- stepping into the arena isn’t always easy. But I think that when you talk about the issues that really matter to folks, they show up and vote. Our campaign was about our kids, and the future of Wisconsin.
I believe the real winners tonight are Wisconsin’s 860,000 public school kids. The little girl in Altoona who loves playing her clarinet, the 4th 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.
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.
Despite these successes, we have serious challenges facing our schools. A larger share of our kids live in poverty, one in five students has a mental health need, the achievement gap between black and white students is too high and we have a growing teacher shortage that is furthered by divisive rhetoric.
Funding public schools is not a Republican or a Democratic issue, it is our obligation to care for our children, and our obligation to Wisconsin’s future prosperity. Education is the driving engine of our economy. Education gives kids a ladder of opportunity, and every child, not just some, deserve the resources Wisconsin should invest in them: kids with special needs, kids of color, kids who are immigrants and kids who come to school hungry.
I will continue to advocate for what is best for our kids and our future, but I need your help. 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. It takes more than just one person, one voice. So my ask tonight is this -- volunteer in your local school, mentor a student, speak to your elected representative. These kids are Wisconsin’s future, and they need our help.
Join me in being their champion.
Lowell Holtz says he hopes his losing campaign for state superintendent raised serious issues about education in Wisconsin.
Holtz says that while the election did not go as he hoped, the race gave him a chance to engage in a dialogue about education and raise serious issues.
Holtz was outspoken against Common Core standards, for increasing safety in schools to close the achievement gap and for increasing opportunities for choice schools.
Holtz says he wishes Evers well in his third term.