WEAC could get a run for its money in today's state Superintendent election.

The outcome could boil down to the very organized teachers union (WEAC) versus the disorganized groups of individuals who are critical of the state education establishment, according to UW-Madison Political Science Professor Charles Franklin.

"What we see in the DPI race is Tony Evers, the current Deputy State Superintendent and really a representative of the established school system in the state versus Rose Fernandez who's coming in as an outsider and someone's who's worked hard and promoted virtual schools, alternative schools and so on."

One of the big debates in education policy in recent years, Franklin points out, is how much the state should support alternative education. The co-developer of Pollster.com says a big question is whether the advocates for alternative-schooling have grown to be a large enough segment of the population to really have an impact on the race.

"One of the advantages of home schoolers is that they tend to connect with one another — they share websites and emails — and as a result they're more connected to one another and that could conceivably have an effect of raising turnout among people who are particularly concerned for alternative schooling in the state."

Franklin says home-schoolers are withdrawn from the traditional brick and mortar public schools, but not from the state — they have a huge network of friends, community, curricula websites, and support from organizations, all in favor of alternative education.

"Whether that's enough to make a big difference in the election remains to be seen."

AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report (1:39 MP3)

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