Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction

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Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction
General information
Office Type:  Nonpartisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $6,028,484,900
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 15.37
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Tony Evers.jpg
Name:  Tony Evers
Assumed office:  April 7, 2009
Compensation:  $120,111
Next election:  2017
Last election:  April 2, 2013
Other Wisconsin Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commission
The Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction is an elected position in the Wisconsin state government. The superintendent's responsibilities include providing leadership for Wisconsin's public school districts, providing the public with information about school management, attendance, and performance, licensing the state's teachers, and receiving and disbursing federal aid for schools.[1]

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is Tony Evers. Evers was born in Plymouth, Wisconsin. He was first elected to this position on April 7, 2009 and subsequently re-elected on April 2, 2013. He began his career as a classroom teacher, and has since worked as a principal, school district administrator, CESA administrator, and deputy state superintendent. He and his wife, Kathy, have three children and five grandchildren.[2]


  • Plymouth High School
  • BA, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • MEd, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • PhD, Educational administration, University of Wisconsin-Madison


Wisconsin law provides that heads of independent agencies may create and appoint such councils and committees as the operation of the agency requires.

Wisconsin Statutes, Section 15.04

In addition to any councils specifically created by law, create and appoint such councils or committees as the operation of the department or independent agency requires. Members of councils and committees created under this general authority shall serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for their actual and necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties and, if such reimbursement is made, such reimbursement in the case of an officer or employee of this state who represents an agency as a member of such a council or committee shall be paid by the agency which pays the officer's or employee's salary.

The creation of the Department of Public Instruction is designated in Wisconsin Statutes.

Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 15.37, Department of public instruction; creation

There is created a department of public instruction under the direction and supervision of the state superintendent of public instruction.

Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 115

The powers and duties of the Office of Public Instruction are granted in Chapter 115.28.[3]

Ascertain the condition of the public schools, stimulate interest in education and spread as widely as possible a knowledge of the means and methods which may be employed to improve the schools...Supervise and inspect the public schools and day schools for children with disabilities, advise the principals and local authorities thereof and give assistance in organizing such schools.


Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches the constitutional or statutory text that establishes the requirements necessary to qualify for a state executive office. That information for the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction has not yet been added. After extensive research we were unable to identify any relevant information on state official websites. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.


Wisconsin state government organizational chart

The department is headed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a nonpartisan, constitutional officer elected every four years.[4][5]

Full History


Chapter 17.19(4) of the Wisconsin state code addresses vacancies in the office of the superintendent of public instruction. In the event of a vacancy for any reason, the governor shall appoint a successor to serve until a special election can be held. If no such election is held, the appointee holds office for the remainder of the unexpired term. [7]


The specific duties of the Secretary of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection are outlined in Chapter 115.29 of the Wisconsin state code.

The State Superintendent of Public Instruction may:[8]

  • Designate representative: Designate the deputy state superintendent or another employee of the department as the state superintendent's representative on any body on which the state superintendent is required to serve, except the board of regents of the University of Wisconsin System.
  • Educational meetings: Attend such educational meetings and make such investigations as the state superintendent deems important and as will acquaint the state superintendent with the different systems of public schools in the United States.
  • Auxiliary instructional employees: By order, establish classes of auxiliary instructional employees and authorize their employment in the instructional program of the elementary and high schools for specific purposes and their reimbursement from the instructional budget. Auxiliary instructional employees shall not be covered as teachers as defined in s. 40.02 (55) or under s. 118.21, 118.22 or 121.006 (2) but shall be eligible under the public employee trust fund as participating employees as defined in s. 40.02 (46), if it is made applicable, other than through s. 40.21 (3), to the school district employing them.
  • High school graduation equivalency:
    • (a) Grant declarations of equivalency of high school graduation to persons, if in the state superintendent's judgment they have presented satisfactory evidence of having completed a recognized high school course of study or its equivalent. The state superintendent may establish the standards by which high school graduation equivalency is determined. Such standards may consist of evidence of high school courses completed in high schools recognized by the proper authorities as accredited, results of examinations given by or at the request of the state superintendent, successful completion of correspondence study courses given by acceptable correspondence study schools, a general educational development certificate of high school equivalency issued by an agency of the U.S. government, course credits received in schools meeting the approval of the state superintendent or other standards established by the state superintendent.
    • (b) Promulgate rules establishing fees for issuing a declaration of equivalency of high school graduation or a general educational development certificate under par. (a). The rules may provide exemptions from the fees based on financial need.
  • Teacher supply, information and analysis: Assist school boards, cooperative educational service agencies and county children with disabilities education boards to locate qualified professional school personnel, assist qualified professional school personnel to locate vacant positions and provide information and analysis of the professional school personnel supply.
  • English language proficiency assessment system: Assist in the establishment of, and participate in, a consortium of state education agencies organized to obtain public and private funds to be used to purchase an English language proficiency assessment system.
  • Teen pregnancy prevention: Apply for federal funds allocated to evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs that have been proven through rigorous evaluation to delay sexual activity, increase contraceptive use, and reduce teen pregnancy in order to implement such a program.


There are six main divisions within the office of Public Instruction:[9]

State budget

The budget for the Department of Public Instruction in Fiscal Year 2013 was $6,028,484,900.[10]


See also: Compensation of state executive officers


In 2013, the superintendent's salary remained at $120,111.[11]


In 2012, the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction was paid an estimated $120,111. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.

Historical officeholders

There have been 26 Wisconsin Superintendents of Public Instruction since 1849. From 1849-1905, the office was elected on a partisan ballot.[12]

List of Former Officeholders from 1849-Present
# Name Tenure
1 Eleazer Root 1849-1852
2 Azel P. Ladd 1852-1854
3 Hiram A. Wright 1854-1855
4 A. Constantine Barry 1855-1858
5 Lyman C. Draper 1858-1860
6 Josiah L. Pickard 1860-1864
7 John G. McMynn 1864-1868
8 Alexander J. Craig 1868-1870
9 Samuel Fallows 1870-1874
10 Edward Searing 1874-1878
11 William Clarke Whitford 1878-1882
12 Robert Graham 1882-1887
13 Jesse B. Thayer 1887-1891
14 Oliver Elwin Wells 1891-1895
15 John Q. Emery 1895-1899
16 Lorenzo D. Harvey 1899-1903
17 Charles P. Cary 1903-1921
18 John Callahan 1921-1949
19 George Earl Watson 1949-1961
20 Angus B. Rothwell 1961-1966
21 William C. Kahl 1966-1973
22 Barbara Thompson 1973-1981
23 Herbert J. Grover 1981-1993
24 John T. Benson 1993-2001
25 Elizabeth Burmaster 2001-2009
26 Tony Evers 2009-

Recent news

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Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction News Feed

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Contact info

125 S. Webster Street
Madison, Wisconsin 53703-7841
Phone: (608-266-3390
Hours: 8:30am - 4:00pm

Mailing Address
PO Box 7841
Madison, WI 53707-7841

See also

External links

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