By James Wigderson for Media Trackers
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is hiring a new Assistant Director for Teacher Education/Professional Development/Licensing, but apparently conservatives need not apply.
Assistant State Superintendent Sheila Briggs posted a link to the position on Twitter and added, “Social Justice Equity Warriors please apply.”
State Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond Du Lac), the chairman of the Wisconsin Assembly’s education committee, described the statement by Briggs as “rather odd.”
“Why would you put that in there other than that’s what she’s looking for?” Thiesfeldt asked.
Thiesfeldt noted that the position’s job description has nothing to do with social justice or equity. “It comes to my mind if she had put something in there such as, ‘Second Amendment warriors please apply,” I suspect that the left would have gone crazy over that,” Thiesfeldt said.
DPI Spokesman Thomas McCarthy denied that the “Social Justice Equity Warrior” comment had any political intent or meaning.
“Advancing equity and social justice is not owned by one political party or another,” McCarthy said in an email. “As our kids continue to diversify in background and need, it is important for our agency and its workforce to reflect that change.”
When McCarthy was given the Oxford Dictionary definition of ‘Social Justice Warrior” and asked if someone with a PhD like Briggs would know the definition, McCarthy remained firm that the term, used to describe Progressive and left-wing activism, was non-political.
“Progressive in that definition is not a party affiliation, it’s the idea of change or progress,” McCarthy responded. “I think we can both agree that our persistent achievement gaps require change and progress to resolve.”
Wisconsin’s racial achievement gaps are the worst in the nation under Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, one of the many Democrats running for governor. However, McCarthy did not elaborate on how a “social justice equity warrior” would address that issue by supervising customer service calls regarding teacher licensing or management of the Teacher Education, Professional Development and Licensing (TEPDL) staff.
Thiesfeldt was not the only legislator concerned about Briggs’ Twitter post concerning the position. State Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) said it was the latest example of how radical DPI has become under Evers.
“Sheila Briggs wants this key employee to promote liberal indoctrination instead of sound educational practices,” Nass said in a statement Friday. “I will be calling on the Wisconsin Department of Administration to review this matter and monitor the hiring process for this position. I will also be calling on Tony Evers to prohibit Sheila Briggs from having any further involvement in the hiring process for this position.“
McCarthy could not confirm Briggs’ role in the hiring for the position, ironically citing state civil service law. “State civil service law does not let us disclose the members of the panel at this time in the hiring process,” McCarthy responded in an email Friday.
McCarthy also denied that being “social justice equity warrior” was a prerequisite for the position, saying the requirements of the position were spelled out in the posted job description despite Briggs’ Twitter post. “The merits of the candidates are judged using that fashion regardless of how Dr. Briggs promoted the job,” McCarthy wrote.
However, state Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg) also read the Twitter post’s wording as a requirement for the position.
“While Ms. Briggs has the right to freely express views on twitter, it is inappropriate for to her to imply a new requirement for the job,” Stroebel said in a statement on Friday. “Tony Evers’ DPI appears to be discriminating against those who may not agree with his far left ideology.”
Alec Zimmerman, the Communications Director for Republican Party of Wisconsin, said the incident is another black mark on Evers’ record.
“Why should voters trust Evers to run Wisconsin when he can’t even run his own agency?” Zimmerman asked. “Whether it’s Evers letting a teacher caught spreading pornography at school back into the classroom, or Evers failing to know the four-year graduation rate, time and again Evers’ weak leadership at DPI shows that he doesn’t have what it takes to be governor.”