Walker Not Backing Down on Teacher’s License Revocation Issue

With Governor Scott Walker touting himself as the “education governor” and with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers as his Democratic opponent, education issues are dominating this fall’s race. Walker and Republicans have hit Evers hard on the issue of not revoking the licenses of teachers accused of inappropriate behavior.

Politifact recently evaluated an ad from Gov. Walker’s campaign about Democratic candidate State Superintendent of Schools Tony Evers regarding school licence revocation to be “mostly false.” However in an interview with Media Trackers Walker defends his position that Evers could have revoked the licence of Middleton-Cross Plains teacher Andrew Harris at the time.

Media Trackers previously reported on the case in question, in which the DPI failed to revoke the license of Middleton teacher Andrew Harris teacher who had watched pornography at school. Harris was fired in 2010 after he and other teachers looked at sexually explicit images at school. Evers claimed that the law in place at the time didn’t allow for Harris’ teaching license to be revoked.

Walker’s campaign recently aired a new ad concerning the issue, in which it states that “Tony Evers should have revoked the teacher’s licence, but he didn’t.” In response Politifact evaluated the ad and rated it “mostly false,” because at the time they claim “there was a lack of legal basis for revocation at the time — made clear by the fact that Walkers and Evers backed a change in state law so that teachers can be fired for viewing pornography at school.” Politifact reported that the law was changed in 2011, almost a year after the Harris case.

In an interview, Media Trackers asked Governor Walker for his take on the Politifact ruling, and if changing the law after the Harris case proves Evers was right, Walker responded:

“No for a couple of reasons, one I said it then he wasn’t even thinking about being a candidate, so it was me, the school board, the school district, plenty of parents in the Middleton-Cross Plains school district asking to change it. The school district put out pretty harsh comments afterwords saying he was siding against them and siding with someone who repeatedly watched pornography in the classroom and they felt it was a risk, so they felt there was a case to be made that the law as it was written at the time he could have revoked the license.”

Walker also addressed the claim by an Evers campaign ad that, “Tony Evers worked with Republicans and Democrats and changed the law” while writing on the screen claimed that “Evers got the law changed.” Walker responded:

“There is no evidence that he in any way championed it other than sending one of his staff to go testify once Republicans in the legislature had drafted the bill, to essentially force his agency to revoke licences in situations like this. Well he wasn’t against it he certainly didn’t testify on it, and the records show just a few days before that he was in the capital at a political rally, years past he testified when Democrats were in charge of state government about bills, he did not personally testify this bill. Yet he wants the public to believe that somehow he brought parties together which he just didn’t do. The most disconcerting part is that long after the law was changed he and his agency continued to not revoke the licence of teachers who were involved in very similar situations to this.”

You can hear Media Trackers Communications Director Jerry Bader’s interview with Walker here: