The Wisconsin State Journal, Madison's other liberal newspaper, announced on Thursday their endorsement of Rose Fernandez for state superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction.
The State Journal endorses Fernandez.
The pediatric nurse and mother of five will be a strong advocate for change -- someone who will use the mostly symbolic post of state schools superintendent as a bully pulpit to press for reforms, many of which President Barack Obama favors.
With so many high school students failing to graduate in Milwaukee, with so much at stake for Wisconsin in the changing, knowledge-based economy, Fernandez is the best candidate to invigorate DPI.
Fernandez, of Mukwonogo, drew public attention last year for her advocacy of public online charter schools. She helped push for a bipartisan legislative compromise that allowed virtual schools to continue serving thousands of students online with more accountability.
Yet Fernandez is quick to acknowledge that online schools serve less than half a percent of Wisconsin's students and "always will be a fraction."
Her primary focus is invigorating brick-and-mortar public schools to give parents and children "a broad menu of options," clear standards and strong support. Like Obama, she favors more charter and specialty schools to encourage innovation, merit pay for teachers and greater emphasis on math and science. Fernandez also supports alternative certification methods to bring more minority teachers into the K-12 system to serve as role models.
Fernandez talks passionately about making sure every child is prepared for a strong start in school. She's not just interested in more 4-year-old kindergarten programs. She talks about the potential need for 3-year-old kindergarten.
Great things are happening in every public school district across the state, Fernandez stresses. Yet great challenges must be acknowledged and aggressively addressed.