DPI Candidate Admits He’s Still a Progressive; Just Not on Education Issues

Saying he is running to head up Wisconsin’s education bureaucracy, and not for governor, candidate for state Superintendent of Public Instruction John Humphries on Thursday addressed many of the controversies swirling around his recent political past.

Humphries, a veteran school administrator at a number of various school districts throughout Wisconsin, joined talk radio host and Media Trackers Communication Director Jerry Bader on Thursday morning to discuss his political past and preview a policy announcement his campaign would be unveiling in Green Bay later on in the afternoon. During the interview, Humphries was asked about his decision to sign a Walker Recall petition, opposing Act 10, as well as his past support for Democratic candidates such as Mary Burke and Hillary Clinton.

Humphries responded by saying that he now supports Act 10 and regrets the decision to back the Walker recall; telling Bader his initial resistance to the law was over concern it would have on Wisconsin school districts. Since then, Humphries believes the law has accomplished much of what it was advertised to do and has since given school districts around the state the needed tools to do what they need to do.

Sighting his frustrations with the way incumbent DPI Superintendent Tony Evers handles education policy as the reasons for candidacy, Humphries emphasized the need for a number of education reforms in Wisconsin, citing for example, his call to revamp the state’s report cards for failing schools and other proposals.

In addition, Humphries has been criticized by other conservative talk show hosts in Wisconsin for his stance on Common Core standards and his support of Burke and Clinton. When asked by Bader to clarify his position on Comon Core, Humphries said that while he believed it was above and beyond what Superintendent Evers had previously proposed for the state, he also sided with Gov. Walker’s proposal to go ‘above and beyond’ what Common Core was asking of Wisconsin schools.

Humphries added that he opposes any educational, one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington, DC. He plans, if elected, to replace Common Core standards with Wisconsin-based standards along a two-year time frame.

While the race is technically non-partisan, Evers is largely seen as the candidate of Democrats, teachers’ unions, and the education establishment. Humphries is seen as the candidate of Republicans, education reformers, and allies of Gov. Scott Walker. Despite garnering that support, Humprhies still considers himself a progressive on most issues other than education.

The statewide primary is scheduled February 21, with the top two candidates of DPI Superintendent facing off during the April 4 general election. The contest will be the only statewide race on the ballot.