The deputy director of the Iowa Department of Education began the day by taking the deputy label off his name tag. Governor Terry Branstad appointed Ryan Wise as the new leader of the department beginning today.
“I sought out the position of director because I thought it was an opportunity to continue my work here at the department that I started three years ago when I came to Iowa to help build the teacher leadership and compensation system. And to continue to grow and help serve the schools and students of Iowa,” Wise says.
Wise is replacing Brad Buck, who is leaving to become the superintendent of the Cedar Rapids school district. The position has been in the spotlight the last several years with a variety of issues, including education reform. Wise says the attention didn’t deter him from seeking the job. “No, I think I enjoy this opportunity to be one of many leaders in Iowa working toward a brighter future for all of our students,” Wise says. “While this job certainly does draw attention — I think it is a statewide team collaborative effort.”
Wise says the Department of Education gets good support from the administration. “The governor and lieutenant governor have provided tremendous leadership here. And that is also one of the reasons that I am excited about this work. Because I think they’ve laid out a vision and path for excellent schools for all of Iowa,” Wise says.
He says completing the implementation of the teacher leadership program is one of the top tasks ahead. “This coming year we’ll have 76 new school districts joining the existing 39. Those districts serve over two-thirds of the students in Iowa,” Wise says. “Implementation during the first year went incredibly well and we are looking forward to this second group of districts coming in, and then all districts in Iowa coming in in year three.”
He says there are also other parts of education reform to work on. “Our early literacy initiative is going full-steam ahead — working on ensuring that all students are proficient readers by the end of third grade. We’ve developed a statewide early warning system to ensure that we’re helping districts spot reading challenges before they really become a problem,” according to Wise.
Wise is 39-years-old and a native of South Dakota. His appointment must be approved by the Iowa Senate in the next legislative session.