It might feel a bit unfamiliar to win, and that made Tuesday night’s resounding primary victory by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers all the sweeter. Evers earned more votes in the February 21 primary than all the other candidates for superintendent combined, and we now get to vote for him again in the April 4 General Election. Let’s all be sure to do that.
The truth, of course, is that public education advocates often win at the ballot box even as so many of the candidates we have supported lately have not. Despite the numerous, painful Democratic losses in state, federal and legislative elections, we have an astounding record of success in school board elections and school referendum initiatives, especially in recent years. In November 2016, for example, WEAC Region 6 locals made recommendations on 15 referendum questions and won 14.
Even when we lose we sometimes win. My social studies students at Oregon High School know this about me, and if you read my posts you have probably noticed that I am someone who believes that losing battles are often part of winning wars. Think Pearl Harbor and World War II.
Keep this in mind as public education advocates do battle with the anti-education Trump administration. Betsy DeVos became Secretary of Education by the narrowest margins despite our fierce opposition. And now she and Trump understand that the majority of the country is against their agenda and will not keep quiet about it. National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen García noted the nationwide bipartisan repudiation of the Trump-Devos education agenda, and says it is “only the beginning of the resistance.”
In Wisconsin, we need to bring this spirit to the current and ongoing state budget deliberations. Governor Walker has introduced his budget and has inserted some of Superintendent Evers’ recommendations where public education funding is concerned. To the extent that this is true, it is because of our advocacy and because the governor understands how much public support there is for public education and educators. We must continue to advocate for public schools throughout the spring and summer as the budget is discussed, altered, voted on and vetoed.
You can track the budget deliberations and contact your legislators through the WEAC website and the Region 6 website and other communications vehicles. And, of course, you can call the Region 6 office anytime at 1-800-397-2287 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will tell you what is happening and tell you how you can help make better things happen.
President of WEAC Region 6