State Representative Don Pridemore took the right podium and State School Superintendent Tony Evers took the left both figuratively and physically at a state school superintendent debate sponsored by the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) this past Wednesday in Madison.
No one expected Pridemore to win. After all, this is the legislator who called for the arrest of any governmental official that tried to implement Obamacare and who recommended that school districts consider placing armed volunteers in our schools to protect the children.
So a lot of school board officials watching the debate had all the anticipation of a probable train wreck as Pridemore rolled down the verbal debate train tracks. But what emerged was not a total wacko or certified nut, but ideological libertarian.
While Pridemore may be a nuisance to liberal Democrats, he poses a real threat to the rightwing activist agenda of Governor Scott Walker. For Pridemore believes in less government on all levels, and to Pridemore, the tyranny on the right is not much better than the tyranny on the left. And there might just be enough libertarian, small-government advocates in Wisconsin state legislature to muck up the works on parts of Walker’s education agenda.
So Pridemore told the WASB gathering that, while he was for local school districting being allowed to place armed volunteers in their schools, this was a matter for local control. If a school district didn’t want to have any guns in their schools, that was okay with him.
Local control also means that individual school districts should also have the right to determine what, if any, charter schools they should have in their communities. That means no state-wide chartering agency as proposed by the Governor.
Higher standards? Not if it means the “Common Core” standards developed nationally. Many libertarians see the Common Core standards, although originally developed voluntarily by the states, as a backdoor to national standards ultimately required by the federal government. They point to the federal waivers granted to state governments under No Child Left Behind. The federal government let it be known that they were looking at the Common Core standards as one measuring stick to grant states such waivers.
In fact, such libertarians want to get rid of the federal Department of Education entirely. And let’s cut back state involvement in individual school districts while we are at it. Heck, let’s get rid of school districts and just have vouchers. That appears to be where Pridemore is headed.
Pridemore and his fellow libertarians might complicate Walker’s activist agenda on a whole host of areas. And since he will not likely win the state superintendent’s seat, he will be right there in the legislative chambers challenging a whole host of Republican bills.
Let me be clear, I truly fear what would happen if Don Pridemore was elected state superintendent. But can you imagine what a mess he would make of Walker’s education agenda if he really was elected? That’s why Walker, along with most Democrats and many moderates, will be voting for Tony Evers for state school superintendent.