The Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy acted in response to a section of A Nation at Risk - on teaching quality - by assembling a group of policy makers and educators. In their follow up report, A Nation Prepared: Teachers for the 21st Century, the group provided comprehensive suggestions for strengthening teaching standards.
Robert “Bob” Ellsworth Wise Jr. was born on January 6, 1948. He was raised in the Kanawha Valley of Kanawha County, West Virginia with his two sisters and attended George Washington High School in nearby Charleston. His father worked in insurance, for McDonough Caperton Group, for thirty years. Wise ran track and field in high school – the half-mile and mile – and was elected vice President of the student body. Wise has won every election he's been in since then.
Wise enrolled at Duke University in 1966, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science four years later. After leaving Duke, Wise applied to law school, working as an aide in a California mental health facility until he was accepted at the University of Houston. Wise relocated to Texas for his studies, eventually transferring to the Tulane University School of Law. He waited tables in New Orleans, working nightshifts while he obtained his Juris Doctor.
Wise graduated from Tulane in 1975 and opened his first law practice in Charleston. In his early days as a Lawyer Wise helped create West Virginians for a Fair and Equitable Assessment of Taxes (FEAT), a group interested in property tax reform. Wise also advocated for coal miners seeking workers compensation and supported community renewal efforts for the 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster victims. In 1978, he once more helped with redevelopment issues for those affected by the Mingo County Floods.
Wise began his political career in 1980, running for public office against State Senate President william Brotherton in the County Democratic primary in Kanawha. With endorsement from the West Virginia Education Association and other West Virginian labor organizations, Wise defeated Brotherton in an upset primary election and went on to win the general election in November, gaining a seat in the West Virginia Senate.
In 1982, Bob Wise ran for the United States Congress. He came out of a highly competitive Democratic primary victorious and continued on to beat incumbent Republican congressman Mick Staton with 58 percent of the vote.
Wise's win against Staton would be the first of nine consecutive elections to the U.S. House of Representatives. During his 18-year turn (1983 – 2001) in the House, Wise ran once unopposed, in 1990, and had majorities as high as 74 percent – in 1988, against Republican Paul Hart – and 64 percent – in 1994 against Republican Samuel Cravotta.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards was created in 1987 to implement the recommendations of A Nation Prepared. With Financial support from The Carnegie Corporation of New York, and supporters like Jim Hunt of North Carolina and former Ford Foundation executive, James B. Kelly, the NBPTS set out to upgrade teaching standards by establishing a voluntary process of certification, incorporating Board-certified teachers into education reform actions.
Bob Wise was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had surgery in 1999. As a survivor, the former governor has long been a participant in the fight against cancer. In 2007, Members of the American Cancer Society gave Wise a ribbon in honor of his fight for survival as well as for increases on outdated tobacco taxes. "There is really no excuse," Wise said on that occasion, advocating for basic procedures to detect cancer. "I am fascinated by all of the excuses we make for not doing it."
In 2000, after 18 years in congress, Bob Wise left his now secure seat and returned to West Virginia to win the Democratic Primary for governorship with 63 percent of the vote. Wise then went on to challenge Republican incumbent Cecil H. Underwood. Wise highlighted the economy, education, health care, and the Energy industry in his campaign speeches. In the end, Wise got just over 50 percent of the vote while Underwood received 47.
Wise was sworn in as governor on January 15, 2001 by Circuit Judge Dan O'Hanlon. In his inauguration speech, Wise spoke once more of improving health care and education as well as turning the economy around. Shortly after taking the position of governor, Wise had to deal with widespread flooding in record amounts throughout southern West Virginia.
In December 2002, Wise was elected chairman of the Southern Governors Association during his gubernatorial term and the following year. Charleston hosted the governors' annual meeting for the first time in 40 years. Wise was also chaired the National Governors Association Committee on Natural Resources and the Southern States Energy Board.
After serving a combined total of twenty-four years as governor, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and state legislator, Wise admitted to marital infidelity and stated that he would not seek reelection in 2004. He went on to “apologize deeply to the people of our state for my actions. In my private life, I have let many people down." Philip Frye, the husband of Angela Mascia-Frye, 35, a state worker, filed for divorce April 7, 2003, claiming she'd had an affair with Governor Wise.
Wise's successor as governor, Secretary of State Joe Manchin, had already announced that he would oppose Wise in the primary election before the infidelity came to light. Manchin easily won the nomination and then the general election. On August 4, 2004, in an interview on The Daily Show before Wise's withdrawal, Phillip Frye told Rob Corddry that he was running for governor, despite being unqualified, to be a nuisance to Wise.
Since 2005, Wise has been President of Alliance for Excellent Education, a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring that all students, particularly those who are traditionally underserved, graduate from high school ready for success in college, work, and citizenship. The Alliance was founded in 1999 by Gerard and Lilo Leeds and is based in Washington, DC. Under Wise's leadership, the Alliance has been a leading advocate for major education policy issues such digital learning, adolescent literacy, increasing high school graduation rates and the Common Core State Standards.
From 2009 to 2015, Bob Wise served as the Chairman of the Board of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The National Board is an organization that seeks to promote and establish standards of excellence in teaching nationwide. It grew out of a 1983 report from the National Commission on Excellence in Education entitled A Nation at Risk. The report detailed a strong decline in America's educational standards and performance. The report concentrated on the need for a foundational overhaul of the education system in the United States.
In 2010, along with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wise put together the Digital Learning Council. The Council was made up of Leaders in the field of education from all over the United States. The group met for several months and then released the study “10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning.”
The Alliance, in 2011, established the Center for Secondary School Digital Learning and Policy. The Center's mission was to examine ways Technology and, specifically digital learning, might provide at-risk students with resources for ensuring they'd be prepared for graduation and college-level success.
In November 2012, the Harvard University Center for Education Policy Research announced new data that confirmed National Board-certified teachers outperformed non-certified teachers in elementary math and English Language Arts.
In January 2013, the NBPTS declared publicly that there are now more than 100,000 National Board Certified Teachers in all 50 states.
In 2016, Digital Learning Day focused on digital equity and expanding students' access to the Internet. Bob Wise and Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel discussed ways to bring broadband connectivity to students beyond the classroom including a program in Coachella Valley Unified School District that equips school buses with wireless routers, and then parks the buses in low-income communities allowing students to remain connected to the Internet in off-school hours.
Gov. Wise received the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Thought Leader Award in 2013. The award is given to U.S. Leaders who “affirm the essential services that public media provides to citizens in areas of education, journalism, and the arts.” In 2012, he was given the Charles W. Eliot Award from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges for his initiatives in education policy and in 2011 he received the National Association of State Boards of Education’s Friend of Education Award. That same year he was inducted into Marshall University’s June Harless Hall of Fame for establishing the PROMISE scholarship.