Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fernandez campaign highlights stand for parents

Candidate for State Superintendent for the Department of Public Instruction Rose Fernandez* unveiled a new campaign video today. It tells the story of Denice, a mother of six children, four of whom attend public virtual charter schools, and how Rose Fernandez worked with both sides to keep the virtual schools open for Denice's children.

Fernandez also announced the endorsement of State Representative Brett Davis (R), former Republican chairman of the Assembly Education Committee.

As the press release notes:

Davis chaired the Assembly Education Committee last session when Fernandez led a grassroots coalition of families, teachers and school administrators who fought to save several public charter schools. After WEAC and DPI used the courts to put the future of online public charter schools (often called virtual or cyber schools) in doubt, Rose helped develop and usher a bipartisan compromise which many have said was the surprise accomplishment of the last legislative session.

I remember attending a meeting of some Wisconsin conservatives shortly after the virtual schools victory. Almost all of them were surprised at the victory of the virtual schools parents led by Rose Fernandez.

But then, we also saw that with the enrollment cap issue for school choice in Milwaukee when WEAC, the governor, and most Democrats were pushed to accept the raising of the enrollment caps. Education reform is a winning issue, but it takes a stand on principle and a willingness to find allies who will support reform.

That's why the campaign of Dr. Van Mobley is so disappointing. As his campaign finance report indicates, he and his family are willing to fund his campaign. (Because of her late start, the actual reporting period for the Fernandez campaign is too small to get an idea of her fundraising ability.) But Dr. Mobley is not standing up for reform.

Mobley is in favor of shifting education taxes to the sales tax to raise more tax money, is against expanding school choice, would abdicate responsibility for Milwaukee education to the mayor (or worse, Governor Doyle), and would trust the unions to "reform themselves." Despite his past support for Republicans, he could just as easily be the candidate of this group.

* You know government is too big when the titles get that large.**
** Yes, I'm going to use that joke in my column next week.