Preview of State School Superintendent Race

By: Zac Schultz
By: Zac Schultz

Madison: When you go to the polls on Tuesday, there's only one race that all voters will see. The race for state schools superintendent comes down to Incumbent Elizabeth Burmaster and challenger Gregg Underheim.

The state superintendent is the leader of the Wisconsin Department of Instruction–or DPI for short. It's the highest elected education official in the state.
Incumbent Elizabeth Burmaster has a clear vision of what her job entails. "The state superintendent is the chief advocate for our children in the public schools of Wisconsin," says Burmaster.

Burmaster is running for a second term in office. She says the state needs to work on closing the achievement gap between all children. "We need to emphasize small class sizes in the early grades–at the time when children are learning to read."

Challenger Gregg Underheim is a Republican in the State Assembly. He says Burmaster's solution to everything is simply spend more money. "DPI can advocate for education while at the same time talking about the things that provide efficiencies. For example–technology."

A big part of Underheim's campaign is to convince voters the money needs to be spent on technology in the classroom. "Technology can be high quality and very reasonable cost."

Burmaster says she supports technology, "I'm very proud of the record of my administration in the innovation and advancement of technology as a tool that is used throughout all the curriculum."

Underheim's says the real issue in this race is that Burmaster is owned by WEAC– the powerful teachers union. Underheim recently held a press conference to lament that WEAC was spending $350,000 to defeat him. Underheim's whole campaign only has $50,000. "Libby Burmaster has focused almost solely on keeping WEAC the teachers union happy. And frankly that's come at the expense of the kids and the taxpayers."

Burmaster says WEAC's support is not a bad thing. "I'm very honored to have the support of the educators of our state."

Burmaster says the race should come down to experience. "I've been in education for 30 years, my opponent has been out of education for 30 years."

The voters will decide on Tuesday.

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