2017 Elections

AFE Endorses Tony Evers for School Superintendent

On April 4, 2017, Wisconsin will elect its State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  While this is always an important election, this year it is more critical than ever that Wisconsin Public Schools be led by a Superintendent who supports Public Education. In this election, there is only one such candidate -Tony Evers.  As such, Advocates for Education-WFB endorses the re-election of Tony Evers for Wisconsin State Superintendent.

2017 Elections

Marquette University Law School’s Candidate Forum for State Superintendent Race

On Tuesday, March 28th, Marquette Law School hosted a candidate forum for the State Superintendent race. The Candidates are incumbent Tony Evers and his challenger Lowell Holtz.

View of current budget proposal that includes an increase of $200 per child? Both candidates support the budget. Dr. Evers pointed out that the increased money needs to be distributed equitably not equally. The public supports public education which is clear by the number of school referenda that passed in 2016. Dr. Holtz believes that the State will provide adequate funding but notes that higher funding doesn’t correlate to higher achieving schools. Dr. Evers pointed out that schools need adequate resources. Choice school websites list small class sizes and facilities when they are trying to sell their school to parents. These are items that cost money.

Why aren’t things better in the Milwaukee Public Schools? Dr. Evers stated that MPS is improving. Test scores are up and instruction has been made more consistent across the district. This is important for the very mobile student population being served by MPS. There has been progress with special education, fewer suspensions, and an increase in students in summer school. The biggest problem in MPS is the abject poverty and student’s home life that affect learning. The district needs to provide more help to students with social and emotional issues. Dr. Holtz pointed out that Wisconsin is the worst state in the nation for graduation gap and has largest incarceration rate of black males. The failure is the fault of the current system in place. There are two ways out of poverty – education or crime. School improvement grants are not helpful. There needs to be more innovation and higher expectations. Parents should be given more control.

Alleged deal between Dr. Holtz and primary challenger John Humphries? Dr. Holtz denied that there was anything more than a policy conversation with Humphries. Dr. Evers stated he didn’t expect there to be an integrity issue in this race and was bothered by the idea that these two candidates would be discussing one of them backing the other to obtain a job to control the five largest school districts.

Vouchers? Dr. Evers pointed to studies indicating no difference in achievement between public schools and voucher schools. The reason for this is that the kids are still coming from the same place. Dr. Holtz pointed to a study that did make this claim. Dr. Evers stated that the study compares apples to giraffes especially because it did not take special education students into account. Dr. Holtz stated that he agreed with Dr. Fuller, prior MPS Superintendent, that parents shouldn’t be forced to send their child to a failing school. Dr. Evers stated that one reason for vouchers could be that we determine giving parents a choice is in the common good. He stated this was a fine idea so long as the goal is to make sure that public schools are not adversely effected by vouchers.

Closing of Failing Voucher Schools? Dr. Holz stated that Wisconsin’s voucher and choice system are the most regulated in the nation. Wisconsin has closed down voucher schools. Dr. Evers disagreed stating that no voucher school has never been closed due to failing students. They have been closed due to financial irregularities or building violations. He went on to point out that the State Superintendent has no authority to close voucher schools or even public schools.

Changes in federal policy with new administration? Dr. Holtz saw the Trump administration’s policies as an opportunity to remove federal overreach including common core and provide more local control. He was concerned about reduction in teacher training funds. Dr. Evers indicated that he was very concerned about the cuts proposed by this administration which includes $3.5 million to Wisconsin for teacher professional development as well as cuts or elimination of funding for after school programs, pre-college scholarship, public TV and radio, and public libraries. It is pointed out that many of these cuts may not make it through the Congress, but it should be noted that this is the first public policy position of this Administration.

Teacher pipeline? Dr. Holtz stated that we need to keep good people in the profession by eliminating unnecessary work such as entering data for reports. We need to return safety and discipline to our schools. We need to find creative ways to keep teachers in the profession. High school students need to see their teachers enjoying the job which will make them want to become teachers as well. Dr. Evers stated Wisconsin already has a teacher shortage born out of Act 10. There needs to be a change in rhetoric around the teaching profession. We need to start honoring teachers and increasing their pay. We need to start talking up teaching as a profession to our young people.

Notes taken by one of our AFE board members.

For Alan Borsuk’s takeaway on the debate, here’s a link to his blog post.

2017 Elections · AFE Events

Meet the School Board Candidates

Whitefish Bay has three candidates running for two seats on the school board.  Incumbent Doug Armstrong is being challenged by Friederike Lemaitre and W. Brett Christiansen.

AFE has asked each candidate questions for this post and in preparation for the forum taking place on March 6 at 6:30p at the Whitefish Bay Library.  Please come join us for the event.  Attendees will have an opportunity to ask the candidates questions about Whitefish Bay education.

 


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DOUG ARMSTRONG

Education Background: BA in journalism, University of Minnesota

Professional Background: Reporter, editorial writer, columnist, and movie critic for the Milwaukee Journal and Journal-Sentinel (33 years); fiction writer.

How long have you been a resident of Whitefish Bay? 47 years

Family:  Wife, Mary (teacher); two adult sons, David (WFB Class of 1986) and Patrick (2006); two adult daughters, Christine (1988) and Gillian (2008)

Activities: Milwaukee Press Club, Mystery Writers of America, former board member of the Council for Wisconsin Writers.

Why are you running for school board?  To continue a decade of service in safeguarding and improving our wonderful schools

What do you think most qualifies you for a school board position?

My experience — three years on the school board (including terms as vice president and treasurer), prior work as a member of the district’s Facilities Study Committee (2007-08), chairman of the Yes-Yes Nov. 3 Referendum Committee (2009), member of the district’s Communications Advisory Committee (2011-14), and school board representative to the Transformational Educational Practice Committee (2015-16). I feel a deep commitment to public education as well as a personal passion for life-long learning.

With budget concerns continually facing the district, what programs or areas would be on your priority list? What would top your list to cut?

Areas of priority: Class size and core curriculum. A competitive compensation structure to attract the highest quality teachers, administrators, and classroom support staff. List to cut: Instead of cuts, restructuring and realignment of existing resources, as has been the practice in the past. Also seeking additional funding from non-tax sources (facilities rentals, private donations) and further improvements in expense control of non-curricular areas. We are a very lean organization, but ways have been (and will continue to be) found to make do with less, without cutting the essentials delivered to children in the classroom.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing the district? How would you handle them?

  1. Preserving our art, music, and world language programming in the face of shifting student preferences for elective courses in math and science. The district needs to re-examine graduation requirements and pre-requisite obstacles that close doors to students wishing to pursue a more balanced education.
  2. Stress management is also a major issue for staff and students working to meet high expectations. Stress will remain a challenge in a world of constant change and growing demands. The board can help by carefully limiting new teaching initiatives and weighing its policy choices for students against the Focus Plan’s bedrock promise to address the needs of the whole child in a caring, inclusive environment.

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FRIEDERIKE LEMAITRE

Educational Background:  private school in Germany, Medical Doctor and thesis in medical imaging, University of Cologne in Germany

Professional Background: Medical Doctor in Germany, taught and tutored German at Eastbrook Academy and Recreation Department

How long have you been a resident of Whitefish Bay? 15 years

Family: married to Sergio Lemaitre, 4 children, ages 13-22.

Activities: community development: neighborhood events, hosting internationals, teaching German at all levels, and Middle School level STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) research. I love learning and traveling.

Why are you running for school board? I love the schools and want to support the district to be loving and excellent, which is a natural continuation of my involvement to date.

What do you think most qualifies you for a school board position? 

I am well versed in the functioning of the school district and have detailed knowledge of its curricular and extracurricular offerings through my children’s involvement. For about 15 years I have been involved in the gifted and talented program on a personal basis for my children and attended meetings in the past where parents have brainstormed how to improve the program. I have taught/coached children for more than 20 years in small settings and helped them reach their goals, especially with German. Music also has been very important.

‪With budget concerns continually facing the district, what programs or areas would be on your priority list? What would top your list to cut?

I would use the following question to orient my prioritization: Besides general excellence, which specific aspects or program do we want our school to be known for?

I would focus on keeping and hiring the best teachers. My husband and I chose the district because of its excellence and language program at the Elementary school level. Regarding cutting expenses: For example I would reuse materials like workbooks.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing the district? How would you handle them?

Keeping our excellent teachers: We have a world class English Department and right now we have the best science department at the High school since 2009. One of my dreams for the district is that we as a community find a summer internship for every Sophomore or Junior to help narrow down interests and build their resume. Parent involvement to tackle these issues is critical.


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W. BRETT CHRISTIANSEN

Education Background:  University of Wisconsin-Madison, graduated with Distinction 2008, and Whitefish Bay High School, graduated Valedictorian 2004

Professional Background: Software Development

How long have you been a resident of Whitefish Bay? I grew up here and returned 3 years ago.

Family: Wife Elizabeth and daughter Lydia, age 3

Activities : Reading, camping, spending time with my family

Why are you running for school board?  Whitefish Bay is a community that values and prioritizes public education, from which I benefited greatly. I want to ensure that that tradition continues, doing my part to guide our great school district in the 21st century.

What do you think most qualifies you for a school board position? 

Being on the school board requires understanding of a wide range of issues affecting our district, from finances to curriculum, professional development to special education. You have to sift through a lot of information, learn about new areas, weigh each decision carefully, all while working well with other intelligent, motivated people. My passion for learning and my life-long education, at Whitefish Bay schools, college, and in my career, have equipped me with the skills and enthusiasm to learn, consider, and collaborate, all while working towards the goal that all of us share, keeping Whitefish Bay a shining example of public education for the benefit of our students and community.

With budget concerns continually facing the district, what programs or areas would be on your priority list? What would top your list to cut?

Number one, we have to prioritize meeting the minimum state requirements for serving all students in our district. Number two, give our teachers the tools, training, and support to educate our kids for the world they will be joining and creating. As for cuts, if we were unfortunately in that position, I would look carefully at each area, looking to trim inefficiencies before making wholesale cuts to entire programs.

What do you think are the biggest issues facing the district? How would you handle them?

Our biggest challenge will be how to do more with less. As a district, we are limited with what revenue we can generate to fund our schools and programs, but the long term cost trends for benefits, facility maintenance, technology, etc. continue to rise. As a board member, I will work with the expert parents and educators in the district to find ways to continually enrich our educational opportunities while operating within our budget constraints.

 

2017 Elections

Tony Evers Advances to General Election on April 4

If you made it out to vote last Tuesday you were one of 1833 people in WFB.  Not a bad turn-out for only one item on the ballot.  Incumbent Tony Evers and Lowell E. Holtz will be advancing to the general election on April 4th for State Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction.

Leading up to the election there was a lot of coverage of the three candidates.  Check out the great interviews on WUWM and on Wisconsin Eye.  Our partners at Wisconsin Public Education Network (WPEN) put together a candidate questionnaire but Mr. Holtz declined to answer the questions.  Hopefully, WPEN will be able to get a response prior to the April general election.   AFE will continue to offer more information about the candidates as April 4th approaches.

 

 

2017 Elections

Upcoming Primary Election for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Feb. 21

We strongly encourage our members to take the time to read the voter guide created by the Wisconsin Public Education Network.

The candidates – incumbent Tony Evers, Lowell Holtz, John Humphries and Rick Melcher – were posed questions about their qualifications and experience as well as their positions on key issues facing public education in Wisconsin, including school vouchers, charter schools, changes in school funding, and the teacher shortage.

According to WPEN, the candidate questionnaire “was developed by a representative group of public education advocates from around the state, and by members of the Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools Board of Directors.”  The candidates’ responses are listed in their entirety.  The voter guide may be accessed by clicking here.

The Primary Election will be held on Tuesday, February 21 and the Spring Election on Tuesday, April 4.

 

2017 Elections

Open School Board Seat/Spring Election

In the next school board election to be held April 4, 2017, there will be two seats up for election.  Incumbent Doug Armstrong has indicated he will be running for his seat again.  Board Member Jennifer Dragseth has advised she will not be running again.  Now is the time to step-up and show your support for our schools by declaring your willingness to run.  The deadline for applications is January 3, 2017.Details on school board elections may be found here.  You can find additional information under our “Be Informed” tab.