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Tony Evers wins third term as state superintendent

Shamane Mills and the Associated Press

Tony Evers has secured a third term as state superintendent and will lead Wisconsin's Department of Public Instruction, according to the Associated Press.

The incumbent defeated opponent Lowell Holtz in the only statewide race on the ballot during Tuesday’s spring election.

Evers took to Twitter to thank his supporters Tuesday night, saying "we won tonight because people care about their public schools." 

"We have some big tasks ahead: funding our schools, supporting mental health needs, and stopping the negative rhetoric around teachers," he tweeted. "My view of the world is one with a glass half full, with a positive outlook for all Wisconsin kids."

Evers said his big win over Holtz by a roughly 2-to-1 margin is no mandate.

After his victory Tuesday, Evers told The Associated Press that he was able to strike a chord with voters who support public schools and his call to increase funding, address teacher shortages and increase mental health services.

"I think people want to stand up for their public schools and this is one way to do it," he said.

Evers said he will continue to press for what he called progressive issues, including advocating for keeping guns out of schools and transgender rights. But he says he thinks the big win shows that Republicans also supported him, even though "They may not want to say it out loud."

In a concession statement Holtz wished Evers well "in his new term."

"While tonight did not go as we had hoped, I am grateful to my family friends and supporters around Wisconsin who gave me the platform from which to engage in a dialogue about education in our state and raise serious issues regarding the condition of education in Wisconsin," the statement reads. " … I hope this campaign has broadened the way people view education reform in the state of Wisconsin."

On the campaign trail, Evers and Holtz sparred over education standards, school vouchers and student achievement.

Holz publicly advocated getting rid of educational standards known as Common Core. Forty states, including Wisconsin, adopted such standards in 2010.

Holz, a former superintendent of Beloit School District, believes individual school districts should set their own standards.

Evers disagrees, saying Common Core benefits families because there are similar standards in different school districts.

The pair also disagreed on school choice. Evers opposes the expansion of taxpayer-funded voucher programs; Holtz supports charter and voucher schools as an alternative to public schools.

Evers and Holtz also didn’t see eye to eye on how to best raise student achievement. The term for state superintendent is four years. Evers was first elected in 2009.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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