President, Alliance for Excellent Education
Governor, West Virginia, 2001–05
Former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise is president of the Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance), a nonprofit organization that has become a national leader for reforming the nation’s high schools so that all students graduate from high school prepared to succeed in college and a career. Led by Gov. Wise since 2005, the Alliance has become a respected advocate for the Common Core State Standards, deeper learning, digital learning, adolescent literacy, and other key education policy issues.
After serving a combined twenty-four years as governor, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and state legislator, Gov. Wise has become a sought-after speaker and advisor on education issues as well as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education, White House, and key policymakers in the U.S. Congress. In 2011, Gov. Wise was named to the NonProfit Times’s “Power & Influence Top 50,” an annual listing of the fifty most influential executives in the nonprofit sector.
A prominent voice promoting the effective use of technology to improve education for all students, Gov. Wise led the Alliance in pioneering the first-ever Digital Learning Day in 2012. Digital Learning Day is a national awareness campaign promoting digital learning and spotlighting successful instructional technology practice in K–12 public school classrooms across the country. In 2013, Digital Learning Day continued to grow—attracting participation from nearly 26,000 teachers, and millions of students from all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Gov. Wise is also leading the Alliance’s “Project 24,” a ground-breaking initiative to help school districts plan and effectively use technology and digital learning. Hundreds of school districts and their leaders—representing nearly 10 million students across the country—are participating.
In 2010, Gov. Wise joined former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in cochairing the Digital Learning Council, a bipartisan effort that included education leaders from across the country who met over a period of several months and culminated in the release of the 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning.
Gov. Wise has appeared on national television and radio programs, including World News with Diane Sawyer (ABC), American Morning (CNN), Your Bottom Line (CNN), Morning Joe (MSNBC), Fox and Friends (Fox News), Huckabee (Fox News), Lou Dobbs Tonight (CNN), the Charlie Rose Show (PBS), PBS NewsHour, the Diane Rehm Show (NPR), and Washington Journal (C-SPAN). He has also been featured in many prominent publications, including Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Atlanta Journal–Constitution, and Philadelphia Inquirer.
As governor of West Virginia from 2001 to 2005, he fought for and signed legislation to fund the PROMISE Scholarship program, which has helped thousands of West Virginia high school graduates continue their education in the Mountain State. During his term, Gov. Wise also established a character education curriculum in all state schools, created the Governor’s Helpline for Safer Schools, and signed legislation phasing in a pre-K program to cover every four-year-old in the state. During his administration, West Virginia saw a significant increase in the number of students completing high school and entering college.
In 2001, Gov. Wise successfully sought salary bonuses for teachers who earned National Board certification, which resulted in tripling the rate of certified teachers in the state. Additionally Education Week’s Quality Counts 2004 report gave West Virginia the highest cumulative grade out of all fifty states. Gov. Wise was also the first West Virginian to chair the Southern Governors’ Association.
From 1983 to 2001, Gov. Wise served in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the 2nd District of West Virginia. During his tenure, he worked aggressively to preserve federal financial aid for students to attend college and served as a member on the House Committee on Education and Labor. For several terms, he was a member of the Democratic Party Leadership team as a regional whip and whip-at-large. Committee assignments during these eighteen years included Transportation and Infrastructure, Government Reform and Organization, and Budget. Gov. Wise’s notable congressional accomplishments include the Chemical Right to Know legislation, the Wise Amendment to the Clean Air Act, and the first-ever federal Mental Health Parity legislation.
Among his many awards and recognitions, Gov. Wise received the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s 2013 Thought Leader Award given to American leaders who “affirm the essential services that public media provides to citizens in areas of education, journalism, and the arts” and the National Association of State Boards of Education’s Friend of Education Award in 2011. In 2012, he received the Charles W. Eliot Award from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges for his leadership in education policy. And in 2011, he was named to Marshall University’s June Harless Hall of Fame for enacting the PROMISE scholarship program.
Gov. Wise currently chairs the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and serves on several other boards, committees, and commissions, including the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation Commission on Standards and Performance Reporting, which develops rigorous accreditation standards for educator preparation; the Gordon Commission, a thirty-member commission of educators and experts formed to examine the future of education and its assessment; and the Business Roundtable’s Springboard Project, which developed policy recommendations for a twenty-first-century approach to equip Americans with the knowledge and skills needed for lifelong success in the U.S. workforce.
Gov. Wise serves on the board of trustees for the America’s Promise Alliance and West Virginia Wesleyan College. He is an advisory committee member for a number of organizations, including the National High School Center, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education and Office of Special Education Programs and housed at the American Institutes for Research. He also chairs the national board of directors of C-Change, which works to eliminate cancer as a major public health risk at the earliest possible time, and he serves on the board of advisors for the Moffitt Cancer Center.
Gov. Wise earned a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a juris doctorate degree from Tulane University School of Law. He has a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He and his wife Sandy live in Washington, DC, and have two grown children.