On Tuesday, Feb. 16, voters will narrow the field of seven candidates running for Wisconsin state superintendent of public instruction down to two.
The two candidates with the most votes will advance to the April 6 election. Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who was appointed by Governor Tony Evers to fill his spot after he was elected gover2nor, has chosen not to seek a full four-year term. Three of the candidates worked under Evers in the department—Sheila Briggs, Jill Underly, and Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams.
During a recent Kiel Area School District Board meeting, board members discussed the candidates and the possibility of bringing the two candidates with the highest amount of votes to a future board meeting to discuss their views. “I personally think that it is very important for voters to choose a candidate that will passionately support schools in Kiel and the surrounding communities,” said Dan Meyer, board president.
The superintendent’s responsibilities include managing a variety of educational programs, including voucher and school choice programs; providing leadership for public school districts; and distributing federal aid for schools.
Below is an introduction of the candidates and highlights of their platforms:
Joe Fenrick has been a Fond du Lac High School science teacher for the past 15 years and a University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh geology lecturer. He is also currently serving his third term as a Fond du Lac County Board supervisor. He plans to fight for emphasizing quality teaching over testing, highly trained staff in every school, and updating classroom technology. He emphasizes a need for children’s services for their mental, emotional, and physical health. Fenrick vows to advocate for statewide broadband that is affordable and available to everyone. To learn more about Fenrick, please visit www.fenrickforeducation.com.
Troy Gunderson is from West Salem. He currently serves as an adjunct professor of school finance in the Superintendent Certification Program at Viterbo University in La Crosse. He has had a 35-year career in public education. Gunderson’s platform is “To Create a Vision for Wisconsin.” He plans to fight for affordable daycare, improve the connection between secondary and post-secondary institutions, and support programs to attract new teachers to Wisconsin schools. He plans to apply the framework offered by Redefining Ready to ensure all graduates are career, college, and life ready. He also would like to expand private industry participation in career and technical education. For more information on Gunderson, visit www.troyforstatesup.com.
Steve Krull is from Milwaukee and is an Air Force veteran. He is a principal in the Milwaukee Public Schools. He leads his staff toward providing a “Grade A” experience for all children. Krull was named “Leader of the East” in spring of 2020 for his leadership skills. He plans to fight for higher salaries for teachers, invest in special education, and eliminate student debt through a student-loan-to-home program that ensures all college graduates have eligibility for a home mortgage. For more information visit www.krullforschools.com.
Shandowlyon Hendricks-Williams is from Milwaukee. She has over 25 years of experience in public, private, charter, and higher education. Dr. Hendricks served as director of the Milwaukee Office of the Governor. She has a vast background of working in education ranging from teaching to district administrator to adjunct faculty member. She has created a “Students Bill of Rights.” She plans to support development of a diverse teacher workforce, eliminating achievement gaps, and elevating home-based involvement in the education process. To learn more about Hendricks’s “Students Bill of Rights” and more of her background and platform, please visit www.drhendricksforeducation.com.
Jill Underly is from Blanchardville. As a leader at the Department of Public Instruction, Dr. Underly was involved with the development of the online federal grant software and program that streamlined requirements and made claiming funds from federal grants seamless. She has over 20 years of experience in public education, including her current position of superintendent of the Pecatonia School District. She plans to ensure quality early childhood instruction throughout the state. “Every child, every day” would offer universal all day/every day 4K and optional 3K programming. She also plans to increase mental health support for students, families, and staff and education equality for all. To learn more about Underly and her platform, please visit www.underlyforwi.com.
Deborah Kerr is from Caledonia. She has 40 years of experience in education including 21 years as superintendent of public rural and suburban districts. She is a co-chair of the UW-System Task Force and president of the national and state superintendent associations. She also has worked in parochial, public, and private schools, is an adjunct professor at local universities, and is a founding member of Women Leading Wisconsin. Her focus is to ensure success for all students through equality for excellence, focus on literacy and numeracy skills, and engage families and community as partners. For more information on Kerr, please visit https://kerr4kids.com.
Sheila Briggs is from Deforest. She has 30 years of experience in education and has been the assistant superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction since 2011. Prior to 2011, she was an administrator and teacher with the Madison Metropolitan School District. She was the district’s director of state and federal programs and was lead elementary principal. During her time as elementary principal at Schenck Elementary School, reading scores increased 58 percent and advanced to 100 percent over a six-year period. She will fight to address the mental health issues of students. She would like to see more counselors, social workers, nurses, and psychologists to make sure students get the support they need. She will also fight for more special education funding and that all teachers receive rigorous training. To learn more about Briggs, please visit www.briggsforkids.com.