State superintendent candidate John Humphries is calling for a state education board that would boost oversight of the state’s top education official.

Humphries said Thursday the current superintendent, Tony Evers, is “out of ideas and out of excuses for our state’s stagnant performance.” The board, he said, is aimed at getting new ideas from parents, students and educators, which he said Evers doesn’t do enough.

“Wisconsin children deserve better than the same failed leadership and lack of accountability they’ve had with Tony Evers at DPI for 16 years,” he said. “It’s time for a new direction. It’s time for genuine accountability for educational results in Wisconsin.”

Humphries, a former Dodgeville School District official, is challenging incumbent Tony Evers, along with former Whitnall School District superintendent Lowell Holtz. The Feb. 21 primary will decide which two candidates will make it to the April 4 general election.

Humphries’ proposed Education Accountability Board would, among other things, have the final say over the Department of Public Instruction’s administrative rulemaking and audit DPI’s accountability measures to “ensure DPI is effectively using, but not abusing, its authority to help low-performing schools and teacher preparation programs improve.”

The board, whose president would be a guv appointee, would have nine members who would serve three-year terms. Those members would be appointed by lawmakers from both parties and would serve no more than two terms. The majority of the board would be students, parents and educators.

The two other candidates said Humphries’ proposal amounted to more bureaucracy.

“We don’t need more bureaucracy or more centralized control,” said Evers’ campaign manager Amanda Brink.

“The state legislature passes education laws, while the State Superintendent is directly accountable to the citizens,” Brink said. “Our Founders debated this at length when writing our Constitution, and they wisely created an independent State Superintendent for a reason.”

Brink also defended Evers, saying he “convenes and participates in dozens of advisory councils across our state.” Input gathered there, she said, help shape DPI policies.

Holtz echoed Brink’s criticism, saying Humphries’ proposal adds “another layer of bureaucracy.”

“Expanding government feels good to some, but the reality is it would give more power to bureaucrats in Madison and not to the school districts and parents where it belongs,” he said. “I believe in local control. Unelected appointees usurping power from Wisconsin’s elected school boards is simply counter-productive to real school reform.”

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