IRG Promises Oversight on $50 Million in Literacy Efforts as DPI Announces Literacy Council 

Sep 28, 2023 | Press Release, Uncategorized


September 28, 2023 

IRG Promises Oversight on $50 Million in Literacy Efforts as DPI Announces Literacy Council 

Nine members of Literacy Council announced – will choose new curricula by December 1st

DELAFIELD, WI Today, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) announced a 9-member Council on Early Literacy Curricula. Cooperatively chosen by Speaker Vos, Majority Leader LeMahieu, and Superintendent Underly, the members include four members from district schools, one CESA member, one charter member, one member with a dyslexia background, one member with a tutoring background, and one member with a policy background. All regions of the state are represented. A voucher school employee is not represented on the Council.

This summer, Republican lawmakers led a $50 million educational investment to help schools transition to the “science of reading,” a phonics-based method that has delivered miraculous, sustained results in leading states.

The Council’s primary task is to determine which reading curricula qualify for that $50 million investment.


This decision affects every district, charter, and voucher elementary school in the state, as the woeful “balanced literacy” method practiced in most Wisconsin schools will be banned beginning in the 2024-2025 school year. As federal ESSER III relief runs out, schools will rely on the $50 million to comply.

Wisconsin schools rank below average nationally in reading, and Black students in Wisconsin and Milwaukee routinely score last in America compared to their Black peers.


“IRG is pleased to see science of reading advocates and charter schools lead Wisconsin’s rise to #1 in reading. We thank Wisconsin’s leadership for including some well-respected names in literacy.

We invite those chosen to seek input from high-performing voucher schools as well as experts in Spanish and Hmong bilingualism. IRG will work to get those critical voices taken seriously as Wisconsin takes up this transformational upgrade.

IRG also vows to monitor the successful implementation of Right to Read. IRG already has serious concerns about DPI’s narrow oversight of $50 million in reading transition funds. IRG will help inform the public of necessary-but-narrow ways DPI can be sure schools do what they were funded to do.” – IRG Senior Research Director Quinton Klabon


The Council has until December 1st to approve curricula.

IRG will provide information to the public about how to guide DPI through 2024’s literacy inflection points. Among other dangers, IRG has identified that DPI will not track whether teachers required by law to retrain in the Council’s new curricula do so, a key component of successful state reforms. It is also unclear whether DPI will confirm that schools transition to a Council-approved curriculum.

Without these safeguards, Wisconsin will waste millions of dollars on reforms due to lack of oversight as Colorado did, extending the reading wars for many more years.

Have questions? Reach out to IRG’s Quinton Klabon at [email protected]. Support Wisconsin’s students.


The Institute for Reforming Government is a Wisconsin-based 501(c)3 non-profit think tank that supports free markets, effective government, and high-quality schools. Learn more about the Institute for Reforming Government here.