The Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled against Governor Scott Walker recently when it ruled that a 1996 ruling still stands which prevents the governor’s office from having veto power over the state’s education secretary. Back in 2011, the legislature passed a law which gave the governor’s office veto power to remove superintendents that the office didn’t want. That law was challenged, successfully, by the Department of Public Instruction there with support from educators and parents.
The law would have allowed Governor Walker, who has spent a lot of his time in office shoring up power to let him make sweeping changes to the state, which have met with minimal success, to veto a superintendent that didn’t do what he wanted. Those in favor of the law argued that DPI should be under the governor’s control, but they didn’t make a very good argument in it’s favor, as it had already been struck down by lower courts.
Those arguing against it maintain that DPI needs to b unaffiliated with the governor’s office in order to remain nonpartisan, and pursue educational goals independent of any party’s political goals. The education secretary is also elected, meaning that if the governor didn’t like who the people of Wisconsin elected, they could just veto them, which flies in the face of democracy, and would likely result in only governor approved candidates, or long periods of elections without acting secretaries.
Nothing about the law seems to actually have the interests of students at heart, but instead a desperate grasp for power, which isn’t much of a surprise. Walker has faced a lot of opposition to his intended education reforms, including things like taxpayer funded vouchers for private school attendance, or plans to overhaul the University of Wisconsin to make it a for-profit university.