Jill Underly

Wisconsin State Superintendent Jill Underly. 

(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s state superintendent is making the case that lawmakers are the biggest threat to schools in the state.

State Superintendent Jill Underly delivered her State of Education address to Democrats and education leaders at the Wisconsin Capitol Thursday. Republican lawmakers say they weren’t invited.

She blamed the Republican-controlled legislature for not spending enough on schools in the state, and criticized lawmakers for pushing for more learning transparency and new civics classes.

"Wisconsin is still struggling to make up for the cuts that were made to public education during the Great Recession, despite the fact that over half the U.S. has found a way to do so. As a consequence, in 2020, we graduated an entire generation of kids who have known nothing but austerity in our school funding, who have known years of divestment in their future. This, folks, is the state of our education in Wisconsin,” Underly said in her speech.

She stayed away from specific numbers, however.

Public schools in Wisconsin are getting more money in the next state budget than ever before. In addition to nearly $6 billion in general state aid, public schools in Wisconsin will receive $2.4 billion from the federal government’s stimulus package. Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, has billions more in other stimulus dollars that he can spend on schools as well.

“Republican lawmakers are focused on the classroom, and she’s focused on funding the administration and the unions,” Rep. , R-Muskego, told The Center Square.

Wichgers and other Republicans are pushing several pieces of legislation that would focus on what kids in Wisconsin schools are actually learning. One of those plans would have schools teach civics lessons.

Underly, who’s opposed the plan in the past, took a swipe at lawmakers during her speech for the idea.

"If you want a stronger civics curriculum, you’ll find no resistance from me. Maybe it would end up resulting in a future legislature that understands the complex legal and societal issues our families and communities face, or the roles and responsibilities of state and local government our framers enshrined in the Wisconsin Constitution,” Underly told lawmakers. “Most of all, maybe it will encourage us to be better citizens and to hold our legislators accountable and set a strong example for our kids of what it means to be civically engaged, but to also civilly engage."