UPDATE: Evers and Pridemore offer different visions in debate - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Evers and Pridemore offer different visions in debate

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The two men who want to lead Wisconsin public schools for the next four years faced off at Monona Terrace today.

Department of Public Instruction Superintendent Tony Evers and his lone challenger, Rep. Don Pridemore (R-Hartford), agreed on very little.

It was a tough room for Pridemore as the debate was held in front of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, a very pro-Evers crowd.

The two disagreed on Governor Scott Walker's (R-Wisconsin) decision to freeze per pupil spending in the upcoming budget.  Pridemore supports the decision while Evers is asking for a $225 per pupil increase.

They also disagreed on whether guns should be allowed in schools as a safety measure.

"I wouldn't want my grandchild to go to schools where we have armed volunteers and armed teachers," said Evers.  "That wouldn't happen."

"A no gun policy is an open door for criminals to come on to our campuses and wreak havoc," countered Rep. Pridemore.

The two also differed on the issue of school vouchers.

"Every time we get into this as a state it just sucks the air out of the room," said Evers.  "And I'm very fearful that this discussion will continue to suck the air out of the room so that we can't focus on the common core state standards or our assessment systems or new accountability."

But Pridemore supports increasing the number of vouchers, while eliminating certain accepted public school standards.

"A lot of these common core standards really started with international standards," said Pridemore.  "Now, why should we be beholden to some worldwide organization that's just trying to dumb down America?"

Pridemore did not specify the worldwide organization to which he was referring.

The only issue there was clear agreement on was the Governor's proposal to create a Charter School Oversight Board at the state level.

Both candidates believe it would take too much control away from the ability of local school boards to decide how many charter schools are established in their districts.

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The two candidates to lead the Wisconsin education department and serve as state superintendent are scheduled to debate on Wednesday.

Incumbent Tony Evers and challenger Don Pridemore are scheduled to debate at a meeting of the Wisconsin Association of School Boards in Madison. Pridemore is a Republican state representative from Hartford.

The race for the nonpartisan position has not garnered much attention even though Governor Scott Walker's budget proposal released last month has heightened the debate over a variety of education issues.

Governor Walker is proposing a broadening of the private school voucher plan beyond Milwaukee and Racine while freezing public school spending.

Pridemore supports the voucher expansion while Evers has said Walker needs to do more to bolster public school funding.

The election is April 2.

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