Wisconsin Head Start Advocacy
2021 State Superintendent Candidate Forum
Forum Date: February 23rd, 2021
Election Date: April 6th, 2021

Candidate: Dr. Deborah Kerr

Fueled by optimism and a passion for learning, Dr. Deborah Kerr is a fearless champion for excellence and equity for all children.

With 40 years in education and 21 years as a Superintendent in public rural and suburban districts, Deb has worked in parochial, charter, private and public schools. She served as a leader in national and state superintendent associations. For the past 13 years, she was the proud Superintendent of Brown Deer Schools, a district with 80% students of color and 50% in poverty. She stepped down in June to pursue other educational leadership opportunities to continue helping students and families.

Deb is a passionate advocate for women leaders, mentoring peers across the state and inspiring them to reach new heights. She currently is Co-Chair of the UW-Madison Task Force to Advance Teachers and Leaders in the Pipeline.

For more information about Dr. Kerr: https://kerr4kids.com/

Candidate: Dr. Jill Underly

Since 1999, Dr. Underly has worked in “all facets of public education, PK – 16:” as a high school and middle school social studies teacher, a University of Wisconsin College of Letters & Science academic advisor, a Title I Consultant and assistant manager at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, an elementary principal and Director of Instruction, and most recently, a rural school district superintendent. In 2015, she was the youngest female superintendent to lead a public school district in Wisconsin with a research-doctorate degree.

With over two decades of public education experience, including her current 6 years as the Superintendent of the Pecatonica School District and 5 years at the Department of Public Instruction in both Educator Licensing and Title I, Dr. Underly has been committed to ensuring that every child, every day, has the opportunity for a first-class public education in the State of Wisconsin.

For more information about Dr. Underly: https://underlyforwi.com/

*Edited from the candidate’s website for brevity


“I’m excited to be the next state superintendent because I want to work with groups like you so that we can increase the access to high quality early learning experiences, childcare, and whatever funding is needed to support our kids learning and growing and becoming the best kids possible.”
– Dr. Deborah Kerr

We need to invest in our kids. We need to invest in the programs that we know work, such as early childhood programming, and we need to hire passionate educators who see past the labels and truly believe in kids and help them achieve their dreams…
-Dr. Jill Underly

Full Transcript Available Here

Forum Audio Recording: 

*This recording is being offered as audio-only due to technical difficulties. For your convenience, a full type transcript has also been provided above.

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