The state’s current assistant superintendent is hoping to move up a seat.
Assistant State Superintendent Sheila Briggs on Tuesday announced she is running to be state superintendent.
Briggs is the second candidate to announce a bid to replace current Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor, who is not running for re-election. Taylor was first appointed in January 2019 when Tony Evers, the state superintendent since 2009, was sworn in as governor.
Briggs will face Pecatonica Area School District Superintendent Jill Underly, who announced a bid to become the state’s top educator earlier this month.
Evers first appointed Briggs as assistant state superintendent in 2011; Taylor reappointed her last year. Briggs is in charge of the Division for Academic Excellence. Before joining the Department of Public Instruction, Briggs was a kindergarten teacher, principal, and school administrator in Madison.
In a statement, Briggs said she fell in love with teaching in her freshman year of college and called the job “the most important and awe-inspiring profession in the world.” If elected, she said she would focus on closing achievement gaps — especially prevalent in poor rural and urban districts during the coronavirus pandemic — and help educators and students thrive.
“Many parents and children have really struggled this year with distance learning,” Briggs said in a statement. “We have unacceptable achievement gaps in our state, and success should not be determined by income, race, or zip code. We are not meeting the needs of all our kids and we must do better.”
Underly, a teacher and administrator for over 20 years, said in her announcement that she wanted to emphasize that inequities and funding gaps exist in districts both rural and urban. The two types of districts are “not as far apart” as many think, she said.
The primary will be February 2021, and the election will be April 2021. The state superintendent position is officially nonpartisan.