Superintendent Candidate Reveals Plan to Create State Education Board

Matthew Gundrum-

Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate John Humphries visited the University of Wisconsin – Stout on Wednesday to discuss his proposed policies with a select group of the school’s education officials. During the meeting, Humphries hinted at a plan that would change the state Constitution to fit an Education Accountability Board.

John Humphries (upper left), candidate for Wisconsin state superintendent, speaks with education officials at the University of Wisconsin – Stout.
John Humphries (upper left), candidate for Wisconsin State Superintendent, speaks with education officials at the University of Wisconsin – Stout.

The announcement was made public during a press conference on Thursday at Weld Riley Law Office in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

According to the press release sent out by Humphries’ campaign delving into the plan, creation of the board would begin in his first week of office, if elected. In addition, the release stated that – in this first week – Humphries would give up “some of his authority by creating this board until its powers [could] be made permanent in the Constitution.”

Details of the proposed board includes a checks and balances system applied to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI), a DPI report card to ensure consistent education outcomes, and accountability metrics applied to the DPI for the sake of traceable improvement efforts within education.

The board would be comprised of nine, appointed members, ranging from business leaders, professors, legislators, and would require the membership of two current or retired educators, two parents of current students, and at least one student, according to the campaign press release about the plan.

Humphries, who worked with the DPI from 2004 to 2011, cited severe educational issues within the state as his motivation for running.

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John Humphries (pictured) said his proposed Education Accountability Board “will ensure parents, teachers, and students always have a voice at DPI.”

“All of our demographic groups are below the level needed for proficiency and below their peers across the nation,” said Humphries in his meeting at UW–Stout, referring to reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Proficiency (NAEP). “If you look at 4th grade kids who [are in financially stable situations], the average score is 236. You need a 237 to be proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Proficiency.”

Humphries also mentioned poor spending decisions on low-performing programs, widening graduation gaps, failing schools, and a “fundamentally dishonest report card system” as other reasons for running.

The proposition of a state education board is unique for Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin is the only state with an elected State Superintendent and no State Board of Education to hold him or her accountable and DPI is the only state agency with no oversight of the rules it creates to implement important new reforms,” reads the campaign press release on the matter.

Tony Evers acts as the current Wisconsin State Superintendent. The position is notable for being nonpartisan.