Wisconsin State Superintendent of Schools Demands Respect After Grabbing Reporter's Microphone

Wisconsin State Superintendent of Schools Demands Respect After Grabbing Reporter's Microphone

Last week, the Milwaukee Parents for Public Schools organization held an event for State Superintendent of Instruction Tony Evers to present his budget proposals for Wisconsin public schools. Evers lost his cool and grabbed a microphone during an interview at the event.

The news of Evers’s outburst garnered attention across the state; radio host Charlie Sykes, for example, included a link to the interview with the headline, “Tony Evers loses his cool.” In response, Evers is now “demanding respect” in a fundraising letter emailed to constituents Monday morning.

The email opened with a headline from the Beloit Daily News, “Give respect, get respect,” commending Evers for his call to respect the men and women who teach the children of Wisconsin. The email goes on to attack EAGNews for an earlier article about him and claims that he is usually “a pretty even tempered guy,” but was “set-up” last week in a “gotcha ambush” staged to ask him loaded questions:

You all know that I’m a pretty even tempered guy, but last week EAG was back at it again. At a parent forum about reinvesting state resources in public education, EAG staged a “gotcha ambush,” asking me loaded questions that implied our students and teachers are radical leftwing pawns and worse. 

These people have a clear anti-education agenda, and there is no doubt they are coming after me. They don’t represent our values, and I need your help….

Together, we will fend off these ridiculous attacks and restore civility and respect to our political process.

That interview, which I conducted on behalf of EAGNews.org, got off to a rocky start after Evers made note of an article on EAGNews’s website, “Evers calls on Wisconsin residents to show respect for teachers.” Evers was apparently unhappy that the article featured a stock photo of a plastic doll in a suit titled, “The Suck-Up.”

Evers managed to maintain his cool while answering simple questions regarding his views on recent events in Wisconsin like ACT 10, Governor Scott Walker’s key reform legislation. However, Evers did not like being questioned about the relationship between a radical left-wing education front group, Youth Empowered in the Struggle (Y.E.S.), and Wisconsin public school students.

During his budget presentation, Evers gave a “shout-out” to members in the audience from the radical group Y.E.S., lauding them for crafting a “Student Bill of Rights,” which he refers to in later questioning as “reasonable.” This “Student Bill of Rights” puts forth the convoluted concept that it is in fact a “student right” for teachers to have the so-called “right” to bargain collectively. Not only is this a logical stretch, to say the least, it more importantly manipulates a document put forth in the name of children for the adults’ more practical ends.

During this year’s recall election of Governor Walker, Y.E.S., which is a branch of Voces de la Frontera, worked closely with groups like Occupy Milwaukee and Wisconsin Jobs Now (a branch of SEIU) in a major get-out-the-vote drive on Election Day. This effort used schoolchildren in Racine, Wisc., to drag voters in low income areas to the polls–during school hours.

Members of Y.E.S. were filmed by Breitbart News speaking at an Occupy Milwaukee rally just minutes prior to it morphing into a black bloc protest march through the streets of downtown Milwaukee. Subsequently, members of the protest were arrested and one urine bomb (a jar full or urine) was thrown at police who were trying to manage the out-of-control protesters. Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association President Bob Peterson, also in attendance at the Milwaukee Parents for Public Schools event with Evers, was caught on film in solidarity at this June 6 protest.

I asked Evers whether a relationship between such a radical group and students was appropriate, at which point Evers got angry and grabbed my microphone. At that point, an organizer of the event came over to tell Evers he was needed back inside the auditorium. Evers stayed long enough to make the point to that he did not have an opinion about Y.E.S.’s relationship with groups like Occupy Milwaukee because he didn’t know if it was true. Angry, he ended the interview by saying, “you got what you came for.”

It is difficult to understand how the State Superintendent of Instruction for Wisconsin schools can make any claims to “giving respect” after his disregard for honest questions about the welfare of children in his care.

Until Evers resolves to find that “truth” of the relationship between the organization he commended, Y.E.S., and Occupy, he might hold off on self-serving fundraising emails calling for respect. It is his responsibility to answer the questions put to him; physically grabbing a microphone won’t stop the truth from getting out. 

Click here to view the entire interview.

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