PRESCOTT -- Students at Prescott High School got to witness civics when Gov. Tony Evers signed Senate Bill 74 into law, which ensures Wisconsin’s continued participation in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.

The compact, students of Jeff Ryan's classroom learned, is an agreement with more than 25 states and provides a voluntary expedited pathway to licensure in multiple states for qualified physicians. By participating, licensed physicians can qualify to practice across state lines if they are board-certified, in good standing in their home state and have no malpractice claims.

Governor Evers walks into Mr. Ryan's classroom to meet with students after receiving an invitation from him. He is the first governor to visit Ryan's classroom since Ryan started sending invitations in 1990. Mitch Abraham / RiverTown Multimedia
Governor Evers walks into Mr. Ryan's classroom to meet with students after receiving an invitation from him. He is the first governor to visit Ryan's classroom since Ryan started sending invitations in 1990. Mitch Abraham / RiverTown Multimedia

“I’m especially excited to be here today, not just to be able to visit Prescott for Mr. Ryan, but because I get to show students firsthand what lawmaking and civics look like, and how important they are to our state,” Evers said Friday, Nov. 22.

Evers is the first Wisconsin governor to visit the high school in 30 years. Ryan, a civics teacher, has sent letters to previous governors since 1990 hoping one would visit. In his latest letter he told Evers he hoped the “30-year streak of no visits to our school end with you.”

The theme of Evers’ visit was to show how Democrats and Republicans can work together and make Wisconsin better.

“It’s easy to read the local newspapers and watch the news and to think that all elected officials do is fight and disagree — what I call ‘huffing and puffing’ — but today we get to show students that when folks set aside politics and put people first,” Evers said. “There’s a lot of things we can do and work together to make our state a better place.”

Before signing Senate Bill 74, now 2019 Wisconsin Act 49, Evers spent some time visiting with Ryan’s First Nations class and members of the student council. During that time, students were able to ask the governor questions.

Governor Evers poses for pictures with members of Mr. Ryan's First Nations class. Mitch Abraham/RiverTown Multimedia
Governor Evers poses for pictures with members of Mr. Ryan's First Nations class. Mitch Abraham/RiverTown Multimedia

One student asked Evers what drove him into getting involved in politics.

“Public schools are struggling all over the state, not just Prescott,” he said. “There are cuts after cuts after cuts, larger class sizes, all that stuff. So that’s why I ran. It was a close race.”

The teacher then asked Evers what are some things he thought would bring about a positive change to the Wisconsin public education system.

“I think civics should be required,” Evers said. “That’s not a statewide thing. Participating in democracy is the most important thing you can do when you get to be voting age, so I think it’s important to have a civic education.”

Another change he would like to see is more resources available to non-native English speakers and students with disabilities.

“I think the state of Wisconsin has left certain students behind,” Evers said. “If you're not an English learner, speaker, or have difficulty communicating in our world, I think we need more resources around that.

“If your a student with disabilities — anytime a kid needs an extra lift, they should get an extra lift,” he added. “Even if it costs more money. That’s the bottom line. … Every student in the Wisconsin public school system should have the opportunity to succeed.”

Once Evers finished talking with students, he told soon-to-be graduating seniors in the class that it’s totally OK to change your mind about what you want to do in life. Evers headed to college to be a physician, but left after a year to become a teacher.

“Sometimes I think adults like to put young people in the box by saying, ‘What are you going to do next year?' or 'What are you going to do for the rest of your life?’ Which is absolutely not true,” he said. “We have to make sure that there’s ways for people to make those decisions, and if they change their mind then that’s okay too.”