A self described "mom on a mission" faces a longtime education bureaucrat, to lead Wisconsin's public education agency. Rose Fernandez is challenging Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers for the state's top K-through-12 position. "There are great opportunities to use that position to improve our public education policies and to make good decisions about the way our tax dollars a spent on education," says Fernandez , a pediatric emergency room nurse who finished second to Evers in the February primary.
Fernandez has cast herself in the role of a maverick – but one who's willing to work with all sides to arrive at what's best for students. "Those who support me in this campaign, I don't know what their politics are," she says. "I think we all need to remember that the boys and girls of Wisconsin are not Republicans or Democrats." Fernandez has made the dysfunctional Milwaukee Public Schools a central theme of her campaign, pledging to do whatever needs to be done to turn around student achievement there. The general election is April 7.
Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers is also running for the top job in the state's K-through-12 education agency, a job with a host of regulatory and oversight responsibilities. "The most important part of the job is not the regulatory monitoring sort of thing," says Evers . "It's providing leadership."
Challenger Fernandez says Milwaukee schools have become an issue for the entire state. That's a contention Evers doesn't disagree with. "It's an absolutely statewide concern," says Evers. "It's our largest school district and things that go wrong in Milwaukee reverberate around the state."
Evers believes his experience in DPI put him in the best position to help MPS, and to address other issues like school funding. Now is an ideal time to address that issue, Evers believes. "There's no money on the table, there's no scraps to be fighting over. Let's get together with legislators and interest groups and parents across the state of Wisconsin, and make some solid recommendations for some fundamental changes."
Tuesday's election decides whether Evers or Fernandez will succeed outgoing DPI Secretary Libby Burmaster, who chose not seek a third term.