Getting to Know Candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction

This week’s program was a debate between the candidates running for Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction in the general election on April 6: Deborah Kerr and Jill Underly

Each candidate had 4 minutes for introductory statements.  Kerr says she is committed to statewide plan for getting our student back in the classroom; the promotion of the trades; focus on high-quality instruction; addressing inequity and achievement gaps; and wanting DPI to be a thought leader in the industry.  Underly says she is committed to high-quality pre-school and early childhood education; committed to safely transitioning schools back to face to face learning; promoting the trades; and addressing inequities in schools.

Following opening remarks, candidates were each asked to respond to four questions:  Q1: We elect this position every 4 years, but we don’t know a lot about the position. What is the role of the Superintendent and name one policy you’d change that doesn’t need approval of legislature or governor? Q2: Pandemic exposed disparities re: access to technology. What can you do remedy this?  Q3: Wisconsin is spending less per pupil than in the past? Do we need to reverse?  Q4:  This is a nonpartisan position, but it has become partisan. What is it about your candidacy that attracts specific groups?

In closing, each candidate had three minutes for final statements. Underly included in her closing that she believes all kids should have access to highest quality public education. Every child should have access to great foundation, and we have a collective responsibility to a public education. She feels that we’re leaving too many kids behind. Kids deserve great buildings, technology, teachers, healthy meals, healthcare and affordable internet access. She wants to solve the problem of inequity.  Kerr says she believes she is an advocate for all kids and doesn’t believe education is one size fits all. She wants DPI to become a learning community and believes we can’t stop until all the children are doing well. She feels she’s uniquely prepared due to her experience in all sectors of education. She does not believe that teachers need to be vaccinated prior to returning full time.

Members can view the full 30-minute debate to hear their full responses, including their responses to the Q&A section.    

Our thanks to the candidates for appearing this week and to Jessika Kasten for preparing this review article.  If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/IzT_-lqlxwE.

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