Six of the seven candidates to become Wisconsin’s next state superintendent of public instruction participated in a forum Wednesday night focused on funding and equity.
The Association for Equitable Funding hosted the virtual forum with candidates Steve Krull, Jill Underly, Sheila Briggs, Troy Gunderson, Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams and Deb Kerr. Candidate Joe Fenrick was unable to attend.
Voters will narrow the field to two candidates in the Feb. 16 primary election. The final two candidates will be on the April 6 ballot, with the winner becoming the leader of the state’s Department of Public Instruction.
Underly is the superintendent in the Pecatonica Area School District, a position she’s held since 2015. She is a former elementary school principal and high school teacher and also worked at DPI for five years.
“Public schools are the great equalizer, they are the cornerstone of our democracy, and we need to fund our public schools,” Underly said.
Working in a rural school district, Underly advocated for increasing transportation and sparsity aid to similar districts, investments in rural libraries, loan forgiveness for teachers to stay and increased access to WiFi. Saying “there’s just so much we should accomplish,” Underly stressed that “where kids live should not determine their education.”
“All kids deserve all the opportunities to meet their fullest potential,” she said. “That’s how we achieve it, we get it through public education.”