UW-Madison alum Stanford Taylor takes over as state superintendent

Carolyn Stanford Taylor ​was appointed the new state superintendent of public instruction on Monday after Tony Evers was sworn in as the new governor of Wisconsin.

Stanford Taylor, like Evers, is an alum of UW-Madison’s School of Education. Earning her undergraduate degree in elementary education in 1978, she returned to receive her master’s from the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in 1979.

“I am thrilled that Carolyn Stanford Taylor, an alumna of our School of Education, is the new state superintendent of public instruction,” says School of Education Dean Diana Hess. “Stanford Taylor is an excellent choice for this role. She is a proven and experienced leader with deep and broad expertise in so many facets of education. She has a strong commitment to ensuring that all young people in Wisconsin have access to an excellent education. I look forward to working with her.”

Stanford Taylor and her siblings were one of a few black families to integrate the schools in her birthplace of Marks, Mississippi. She came to Madison to attend the university and pursue a degree in elementary education. She went on to serve as a classroom teacher and principal in the Madison Metropolitan School District, and also became the first African-American president of the local teachers’ union.

Stanford Taylor was previously the assistant state superintendent, making her the first female, African-American appointed to that position. In this position, she oversaw the Special Education Team, the Student Services/Prevention and Support Team, and the residential school for visually and hearing impaired students.Having known her for almost 30 years, Evers affirms Stanford Taylor’s reputation for being committed to her work. In a Department of Public Instruction (DPI) news release about her appointment, Evers comments that “Carolyn is a dedicated, thoughtful leader who puts the best interests of kids before all else.”

“Carolyn is a dedicated, thoughtful leader who puts the best interests of kids before all else.”  — Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers

Stanford Taylor’s work has also been recognized by the Department of Administration, Division of Personnel Management. In 2018, she was the recipient of the Virginia Hart Special Recognition, awarded to female state employees positively impacting the future of Wisconsin.

Stanford Taylor said she looks forward to becoming the state superintendent, a position in Wisconsin that has never been held by an African-American. She comments on her excitement in the DPI’s news release, saying “I look forward to this opportunity, and know that together, we can continue to advance educational equity for all students.”

Stanford Taylor is taking over the post formerly held by Evers, who won a November election to become Wisconsin’s 46th governor.

The state superintendent of public instruction oversees Wisconsin’s K-12 educational system and leads the Department of Public Instruction. The position is a non-partisan, constitutional officer, responsible for providing guidance and oversight to the state’s primary and secondary schools, licensing educators, and administering funds.

Read the Department of Public Instruction’s full news release here.

To learn more about Stanford Taylor, check out these media reports:

• Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Tony Evers to appoint longtime Madison educator as next state schools chief.”

• Madison365.com: “Carolyn Stanford Taylor Appointed Next State Superintendent.”

• Wisconsin State Journal: “Tony Evers’ pick to succeed him as state superintendent is top deputy, former Madison principal.”

• The Philadelphia Tribune: “Wisconsin to get first Black as state school superintendent.”