Residents will Vote on the State Superintendent Job this Tuesday

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Lowell Holtz and Tony Evers are running against each other for Wisconsin's top education official job.

Evers, 65, is finishing his second term as state superintendent after working eight years as deputy. He spent 19 years as a teacher, principal and superintendent in three different Wisconsin public school districts and nine years as the administrator for the Cooperative Education Service Agency 6.

Holtz, 59, is a former superintendent in Whitnall and Beloit and the 1999 elementary teacher of the year. Holtz also ran for state superintendent in 2009, after leaving his job in Beloit, but finished last in the primary.

On Friday, Evers and Holz faced off in their last debate. 

Evers and Holtz offered differing visions on everything from Common Core academic standards to concealed weapons during the debate just four days before Tuesday's election. Holtz also defended his sending of campaign-related emails to his wife on his school email account when he was superintendent of the Whitnall School District, just two days after the board notified parents it would not attempt to pursue any lost wages for the political work done on the school's time.

Holtz blamed Evers for failing to improve Wisconsin's worst-in-the-nation ranking in the achievement gap — the difference between the performance of white and black students in Wisconsin public schools.

\"We have to do better,\" Holtz said. \"We're failing way too many kids. ... Every single state in the union does a better job than we do? That's not acceptable.\"

He said the key to addressing the issue is to make schools safer so that learning can more easily occur.

Evers cited the loss of good-paying jobs and the difficulty of educating students living in poverty as challenges that are fueling the gap, but said there have been successes during his tenure including decreasing the number of suspensions and expulsions and helping to turn around struggling schools.

Holtz defended his use of his Whitnall school email to send messages to his wife discussing the race, saying there was nothing illegal about it. Evers said it was improper. Holtz also downplayed his discussion with a former candidate in the race about the state superintendent taking over Wisconsin's largest five school districts and possibly turning them into private voucher schools.

Holtz said it was a \"blatant lie\" to say he created the document that raised that possibility — which is a power the state superintendent does not have — but he's refused to say who did write the proposal.

On other issues, Holtz repeated his opposition to Common Core standards, while Evers continues to support them. And Holtz said he supported a bill introduced in the Legislature that would allow parents picking up their children at school to have a concealed weapon in their vehicles. The proposal would also allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Evers opposes the measure.

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