Walker announces education reform

MILWAUKEE -- Governor Scott Walker spoke in Milwaukee Thursday, but not about the recall effort against him. Instead, the governor made an announcement at the Frontier Airlines Center regarding education reform, during the State Education Conference.

Two years ago, during his campaign for governor, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker addressed the same convention. Three candidates were invited, and Walker was the only one to show up. At that conference, Walker spoke about giving local control to school boards, something the governor says his reforms have accomplished.

In Walker's first appearance in the state of Wisconsin since Democrats delivered one million signatures on recall petitions to the Government Accountability Board in Madison, attempting to force a recall election against him, Walker avoided the topic, and uncharacteristically avoided reporter questions. "I'm not going to talk much more about the past, and what's happened in the past year other than to say, that was what I laid out two years ago at this forum, as a candidate for governor, that's what I've done this year as your governor, and that's what I hope to continue to do as your governor, into the future," Walker said Thursday.

It was an attempt to show Walker is putting policy over politics, laying out a plan for education reform in the state. The governor delivered his remarks at the state education convention before hundreds of local school board members. He detailed a specific proposal to improve reading skills. "I want to highlight core principals. We're talking about a state-funded, not locally-funded screener to make sure every kid who comes into kindergarten is screened, so your teachers and districts know where each of their pupils are at when they come into school," Walker said.

Walker criticized the media Thursday for focusing on conflict, instead of collaboration. "They may not get the kind of attention that other issues get out there, but for whatever reason, kind of like sporting events, the media likes to hone in on things where there's clashes, a winner and a loser. In this case, our hope is working collaboratively. There's just winners, so it may not get the kind of media splash that other things get out there," Walker said.

Wisconsin's Democratic Party Spokesman Graeme Zielinski says Walker's speech was rhetoric, not really a smoke screen. "I'll give Scott Walker an 'A' for dishonesty. He hasn't collaborated with Tony Evers. He hasn't collaborated with the school boards of Wisconsin.  He's told them what to do," Zielinski said.

Zielinski also criticized Walker's avoidance of reporter questions and the fact that Walker was out of state when the recall petitions were delivered this week. "I don't know why he didn't take your questions.  I have a feeling why he didn't take your questions.  He was out in New York when it came time to face accountability for the people of Wisconsin.  There will be a recall election, and things like he's doing now with the massive cuts to education and how he's put Wisconsin shamefully at the top in cuts to education will be things he'll have to answer for when he stands before the people of Wisconsin," Zielinski said.

Walker did tell the Associated Press in an interview that he expects a recall election to be authorized and that he'd like to have the election sooner rather than later.