MADISON (AP) – Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke continues to differentiate herself from Republican Gov. Scott Walker on education issues, speaking out this week against a bill backed by Walker that would give the Legislature the power to write academic standards for schools.
Burke has previously taken the opposite position from Walker on the private school voucher program. Walker supported growing the program statewide while Burke is against it.
Education issues, such as the voucher program and Common Core academic standards, are expected to be among the sharpest differences between Walker and Burke in the governor’s race. Walker, who is eyeing a run for president in 2016, is seeking re-election this fall. Burke, a member of the Madison school board, is running her first statewide election in the effort to knock out Walker.
Burke told the Wisconsin State Journal for a story Thursday that she opposes a bill backed by Walker in the Legislature that could lead to Common Core academic standards being replaced.
Burke said the Republican-backed plan would waste “precious resources” school districts have already spent building a curriculum around the math and reading standards since they were adopted in 2010.
“We need these (standards) in Wisconsin and to think three years of work and resources are down the drain because of political pressure from, frankly, what looks like tea party groups, is ridiculous,” Burke said.
Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said any new standards that would be written under the bill would be rigorous.
“The governor believes Wisconsin-specific standards should be created and implemented by Wisconsinites,” Evenson said.
The bill, which was introduced in the state Senate last week, would create a new state board of 15 members appointed by the governor and state superintendent of public instruction to create model academic standards.
State Superintendent Tony Evers has strongly criticized the measure, saying it would politicize education because the ultimate authority in approving standards would rest with the Legislature.
The Senate Education Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bill for March 6.