Tim Michels says Wisconsin’s State of Education speech was more of a political stump speech than a report card on the state’s schools.
Michels, who is running for governor against incumbent Gov. Tony Evers, told The Center Square Friday that State Superintendent Jill Underly’s focus on Pride flags and pronouns is frustrating parents across the state who want their kids to get back to the fundamentals.
“A lot of parents believe there’s too much indoctrination happening in schools,“ Michels said Friday. “Parents want their sons and daughters to be taught the ABCs. To get the life skills that are necessary to get a job and be a productive member of society,”
Underly mentioned parents in her speech just a handful of times, and never in a way that suggests moms and dads should have a say in what their kids are learning. Michels said parents must be involved in their kids’ education.
“Educrats in Wisconsin think they know what is best for students, they think they know what is best for schools, they think they know what is best for families, they think they know what is best for society,” Michels added. “It is not what families and parents want to have happen in their children’s education.”
Underly spent much of her speech arguing that Republican lawmakers have underfunded public schools for the past decade. Michels said the Republican-controlled legislature has actually sent more money to public schools than ever before, including a record $3 billion last year alone.
Michels said money isn’t the problem, the lack of learning is the problem.
“They don’t appear to be concerned about test scores and the literacy rate of students here in Wisconsin,” Michels explained. “It seems to be all about cramming a political ideology upon our sons and daughters.”
Numbers from Underly’s Department of Public Instruction show less than one-third of students are proficient in English or math. Sixty-four percent of fourth-graders are not proficient in reading. Wisconsin also ranks dead-last in reading achievement among Black students. While Hispanic students dropped from first in the nation to 28th while White students fell from sixth to 27th.
Michels said school choice is needed to improve the state’s public schools.
“Competition makes everyone perform better. If not, your business or your school lose,” Michels said. “That is the great motivator that will put school administrations and school boards on notice that the status quo is no longer acceptable.”