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From HOPE Scholarships to School Vouchers: First Thomas H. Kean Award Honors Gov. Zell Miller (D-GA), Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) for Innovation, Commitment to Education

The unique and powerful role a governor can play in improving public education has grown undeniably in the years since A Nation at Risk. Today, the Institute on Education and Government at Teachers College Columbia University recognized two governors--Zell Miller (D-GA) and Tommy G. Thompson (R-WI)--as state leaders whose vision for public education has most transformed schools first in their states, and eventually across the nation.

NEW YORK--April 8, 1998--The unique and powerful role a governor can play in improving public education has grown undeniably in the years since A Nation at Risk. Today, the Institute on Education and Government at Teachers College Columbia University recognized two governors--Zell Miller (D-GA) and Tommy G. Thompson (R-WI)--as state leaders whose vision for public education has most transformed schools first in their states, and eventually across the nation.

In a ceremony at Milbank Chapel, Governors Miller and Thompson were presented the first Thomas H. Kean Governor of the Year Awards. The awards recognize the commitment, vision, leadership, and courage that governors must demonstrate to create comprehensive education initiatives that make a meaningful difference in the lives of students, their families, and their teachers.

"The Governor's office often serves as an incubator for ideas about improving the quality of public education," says Gaston Caperton, the former governor of West Virginia who is the director of the newly established Institute on Education and Government at Teachers College. "The proving ground for many of the most promising ideas are states where governors have the courage to use their leadership skills to create initiatives that bring these ideas to life."

"As the principal elected official in their states, governors have the levers required to push policies that are difficult to implement first on a national scale. As they begin to bring about improvements, these policies tend to ripple across the country," Caperton says.

Gov. Miller pioneered the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship that has helped open the higher education door for more than 300,000 students in Georgia by granting scholarships to every student who graduates high school with a B average. More than 185,000 children have participated in Miller's voluntary pre-kindergarten program, the only one in the nation available to all 4-year-olds statewide at no cost. Gov. Miller also established the Georgia P-16 Council in 1995 to guarantee a seamless educational transition and better student learning from pre-kindergarten through post-secondary education. Most recently, Miller received national attention for his initiative to build young children's cultural awareness by sending a classical music CD or cassette home with every newborn in the state.

Gov. Thompson has pursued reforms that make school more relevant to more students, raise academic standards, invest in technology for schools, shift authority over education from a centralized government bureaucracy to the parents, taxpayers, and community leaders, and gear education toward preparing students for the workforce. Under Thompson's helm, Wisconsin initiated the first parental choice program in the nation, allowing low-income Milwaukee families to send their children to the private or public school of their choice. This program was expanded in 1995 to include religious schools, making Wisconsin the first state to broaden voucher options in that way. The state also was among the first to implement school-to-work and youth apprentice programs. Those programs are now widely recognized as the best in the country and are used as models for others. Wisconsin's programs make school more relevant for more than 10,000 students by providing work-based learning experiences in 19 different fields.

"The awards, which will be offered annually, underscore the importance governors play in shaping state education policy, and by extension, nationwide efforts," says Teachers College President Arthur Levine. "Gov. Miller's HOPE Scholarships have opened the doors to post-secondary education for students in Georgia, and thanks to President Clinton, programs like it will be available to more Americans by the end of the year. And Governor Thompson's institution of a statewide policy for school vouchers and youth apprenticeship has explored two major initiatives that may one day have a greater impact on national policy."

The non-partisan Institute on Education and Government was established in 1997 to "provide powerful and effective support to governors and other leaders committed to education," according to Gov. Caperton, who is well-known for pioneering efforts to inject new technology, more equitable funding and higher standards into West Virginia schools. The Institute provides ideas and research combined with implementation strategies committed to the core values of equity, excellence, integrity, fairness, and the operating principles of partnerships and measurable results.

New Jersey's Kean Set An Example

The award was named after former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean (1982-90), the president of Drew University. Kean has been a special friend of Teachers College, and serves on its board of trustees and as chairman of the Institute on Education and Government.

"Tom Kean, himself a former teacher, was the nation's first true 'education governor.' He fought for adequacy and equity in funding, excellence in teaching, opportunity for higher education, and high standards for school management," according to Teachers College president Arthur Levine.

Selection Criteria

The Institute's board reviewed selected biographies of several Republican and Democratic governors to examine their beliefs about public education, approach to leadership, public engagement, and commitment to providing a high quality education for all students. The board then consulted other nationally recognized organizations to get feedback and suggestions for selecting the governors. Selection criteria includes:

  • The comprehensive nature of initiatives that have been implemented;
  • Demonstrated compassion, courage, and commitment to the goal of serving all children, teachers, and families;
  • The degree to which the plans of the governors tackle tough issues such as raising standards and providing support for students and teachers to succeed, attention to issues of equity and excellence, access and transition to higher education opportunities or meaningful careers for all students, improvement in the education of traditionally under served and economically disadvantaged students, encourage and provide for parental involvement and school choice options, professional development for school personnel, and whole school improvement efforts as a means to transform schools and communities;
  • Education strategies that challenge beliefs and attitudes of the public about education; and
  • The governors own moral character and beliefs about education.

Giving HOPE to Georgia Students

"Four years ago, the state of Georgia entered into an agreement with parents and children in the state," commented Gov. Miller. "We said to the children of this state: Study and work hard, and Georgia's HOPE Scholarship Program will be there to help."

Established in 1993 to keep Georgia's best and brightest students in the state, HOPE awards scholarships to graduates with a B average funding for tuition, fees, and a stipend for books. Designed for students attending any public college or university in the state, HOPE funds also help students wishing to attend private colleges and technical schools in Georgia; college juniors and seniors who are studying to be teachers; students who return to school to receive their high-school equivalency diplomas; and teachers who return to school to receive a master's degree in a relevant field pertaining to their work.

"It has never been more important for our students to get a college education, but it has never been harder for families to pay for it," says Gov. Miller. "The Lottery for Education has provided HOPE so Georgia families will be able to give their children the educational opportunities they must have to succeed in the 21st century."

Having made education the top priority of his administration, Gov. Miller has worked tirelessly to upgrade technology in every Georgia elementary, middle and high school, appropriating over $600 million in the last four years for software, hardware, and networking capability for classroom and media center computers.

Georgia also ranks first in the nation in production of educational programming, first in the number of students and schools served by satellite-based instruction, and first in the number of young children served by "ready-to-learn" programming.

Miller's efforts on the behalf of Georgia's teachers have not gone unnoticed either. Teachers in the state have received four straight 6 percent salary increases. Georgia's salaries now lead the Southeast and are poised to pass the national average.

Gov. Miller's other contributions to education in his state include the largest education construction program ever undertaken in Georgia's history, including $1 billion in higher education construction; almost tripling the state funds for adult literacy programs; and pushing through $20 million for after school reading programs for school children.

Advocacy for A Better Prepared Workforce and Choice for Parents

First elected in 1986, Gov. Thompson throughout his three terms has pursued an ambitious and innovative agenda focused on the economy, ending welfare, education reform, the environment and crime.

Although he is perhaps best known nationally for welfare reform, Gov. Thompson has pursued an aggressive approach to education reform in Wisconsin. Gov. Thompson's chief education goal is "to give parents the tools they need to ensure their children are receiving the best education."

"Learning must be a continual process for our children," Gov. Thompson says. "Our high standard of excellence applies to all schools in the state of Wisconsin, not just our high schools. We must make every grade count."

Gov. Thompson's national leadership on the issue of education reform was highlighted when, as chairman of the National Governors' Association and the Education Commission of the States, he convened the 1996 National Education Summit.

The nation's governors agreed at the summit to establish internationally competitive education standards by 1998. Business leaders from some of America's most important companies agreed to begin asking prospective employees for their high school transcripts and diplomas. They also agreed to base their business location decisions, in part, on the commitment of states and communities to enforcing high academic standards.

The Institute's Work

The Thomas H. Kean Governor of the Year Award is just one of the many activities the Institute on Education and Government undertakes. The Institute was created to provide powerful and effective support to governors and other leaders committed to education, providing ideas and research combined with implementation strategies committed to the core values of equity, excellence, integrity, fairness, and the operating principles of partnerships and measurable results.

The Institute oversees a series of programs designed to accomplish this mission, including:

  • Governors' Education Planning Program--Each year, through a competitive process, the Institute will select three governors with whom it will work to help develop comprehensive educational programs in their states.
  • Leadership Seminars for Governors' Staff--The Institute and the National Governors Association co-sponsor seminars for governors' chiefs of staff. Seminars feature national leaders who specialize in strategic education planning, press relations, and key education reform issues such as redesigning problem schools for success, setting standards and assessment models, and improving teacher training.
  • Governors' Briefing Report--The Institute provides carefully selected and useable information to governors and their key staff members. The material is summarized in a quarterly titled The Governors' Briefing Report. Contributions to the briefing are written by the country's leading education planners, current and former governors, researchers, pollsters associated with education trends, and opinion leaders.
  • National Education Advocacy--The Institute is developing a national trust fund for education technology.

The Institute on Education and Government works with the full support of the graduate school of education rated the nation's best by US News & World Report. Teachers College is the nation's largest graduate school devoted to education across the lifespan and both in and out of the classroom. It is an affiliate of Columbia University but retains its legal and financial independence.

For more information about the Thomas H. Kean Governor of the Year Awards or the Institute on Education and Government at Teachers College, contact Gaston Caperton, director, or Valerie Henning-Piedmonte, associate director, at: Institute on Education and Government, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, Box 34, NY, NY 10027, phone: (212) 778-8402 or 8239, fax (212) 678-8231, email: ieg@columbia.edu.

Published Thursday, Jun. 27, 2002

From HOPE Scholarships to School Vouchers: First Thomas H. Kean Award Honors Gov. Zell Miller (D-GA), Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) for Innovation, Commitment to Education

NEW YORK--April 8, 1998--The unique and powerful role a governor can play in improving public education has grown undeniably in the years since A Nation at Risk. Today, the Institute on Education and Government at Teachers College Columbia University recognized two governors--Zell Miller (D-GA) and Tommy G. Thompson (R-WI)--as state leaders whose vision for public education has most transformed schools first in their states, and eventually across the nation.

In a ceremony at Milbank Chapel, Governors Miller and Thompson were presented the first Thomas H. Kean Governor of the Year Awards. The awards recognize the commitment, vision, leadership, and courage that governors must demonstrate to create comprehensive education initiatives that make a meaningful difference in the lives of students, their families, and their teachers.

"The Governor's office often serves as an incubator for ideas about improving the quality of public education," says Gaston Caperton, the former governor of West Virginia who is the director of the newly established Institute on Education and Government at Teachers College. "The proving ground for many of the most promising ideas are states where governors have the courage to use their leadership skills to create initiatives that bring these ideas to life."

"As the principal elected official in their states, governors have the levers required to push policies that are difficult to implement first on a national scale. As they begin to bring about improvements, these policies tend to ripple across the country," Caperton says.

Gov. Miller pioneered the HOPE (Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) Scholarship that has helped open the higher education door for more than 300,000 students in Georgia by granting scholarships to every student who graduates high school with a B average. More than 185,000 children have participated in Miller's voluntary pre-kindergarten program, the only one in the nation available to all 4-year-olds statewide at no cost. Gov. Miller also established the Georgia P-16 Council in 1995 to guarantee a seamless educational transition and better student learning from pre-kindergarten through post-secondary education. Most recently, Miller received national attention for his initiative to build young children's cultural awareness by sending a classical music CD or cassette home with every newborn in the state.

Gov. Thompson has pursued reforms that make school more relevant to more students, raise academic standards, invest in technology for schools, shift authority over education from a centralized government bureaucracy to the parents, taxpayers, and community leaders, and gear education toward preparing students for the workforce. Under Thompson's helm, Wisconsin initiated the first parental choice program in the nation, allowing low-income Milwaukee families to send their children to the private or public school of their choice. This program was expanded in 1995 to include religious schools, making Wisconsin the first state to broaden voucher options in that way. The state also was among the first to implement school-to-work and youth apprentice programs. Those programs are now widely recognized as the best in the country and are used as models for others. Wisconsin's programs make school more relevant for more than 10,000 students by providing work-based learning experiences in 19 different fields.

"The awards, which will be offered annually, underscore the importance governors play in shaping state education policy, and by extension, nationwide efforts," says Teachers College President Arthur Levine. "Gov. Miller's HOPE Scholarships have opened the doors to post-secondary education for students in Georgia, and thanks to President Clinton, programs like it will be available to more Americans by the end of the year. And Governor Thompson's institution of a statewide policy for school vouchers and youth apprenticeship has explored two major initiatives that may one day have a greater impact on national policy."

The non-partisan Institute on Education and Government was established in 1997 to "provide powerful and effective support to governors and other leaders committed to education," according to Gov. Caperton, who is well-known for pioneering efforts to inject new technology, more equitable funding and higher standards into West Virginia schools. The Institute provides ideas and research combined with implementation strategies committed to the core values of equity, excellence, integrity, fairness, and the operating principles of partnerships and measurable results.

New Jersey's Kean Set An Example

The award was named after former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean (1982-90), the president of Drew University. Kean has been a special friend of Teachers College, and serves on its board of trustees and as chairman of the Institute on Education and Government.

"Tom Kean, himself a former teacher, was the nation's first true 'education governor.' He fought for adequacy and equity in funding, excellence in teaching, opportunity for higher education, and high standards for school management," according to Teachers College president Arthur Levine.

Selection Criteria

The Institute's board reviewed selected biographies of several Republican and Democratic governors to examine their beliefs about public education, approach to leadership, public engagement, and commitment to providing a high quality education for all students. The board then consulted other nationally recognized organizations to get feedback and suggestions for selecting the governors. Selection criteria includes:

  • The comprehensive nature of initiatives that have been implemented;
  • Demonstrated compassion, courage, and commitment to the goal of serving all children, teachers, and families;
  • The degree to which the plans of the governors tackle tough issues such as raising standards and providing support for students and teachers to succeed, attention to issues of equity and excellence, access and transition to higher education opportunities or meaningful careers for all students, improvement in the education of traditionally under served and economically disadvantaged students, encourage and provide for parental involvement and school choice options, professional development for school personnel, and whole school improvement efforts as a means to transform schools and communities;
  • Education strategies that challenge beliefs and attitudes of the public about education; and
  • The governors own moral character and beliefs about education.

Giving HOPE to Georgia Students

"Four years ago, the state of Georgia entered into an agreement with parents and children in the state," commented Gov. Miller. "We said to the children of this state: Study and work hard, and Georgia's HOPE Scholarship Program will be there to help."

Established in 1993 to keep Georgia's best and brightest students in the state, HOPE awards scholarships to graduates with a B average funding for tuition, fees, and a stipend for books. Designed for students attending any public college or university in the state, HOPE funds also help students wishing to attend private colleges and technical schools in Georgia; college juniors and seniors who are studying to be teachers; students who return to school to receive their high-school equivalency diplomas; and teachers who return to school to receive a master's degree in a relevant field pertaining to their work.

"It has never been more important for our students to get a college education, but it has never been harder for families to pay for it," says Gov. Miller. "The Lottery for Education has provided HOPE so Georgia families will be able to give their children the educational opportunities they must have to succeed in the 21st century."

Having made education the top priority of his administration, Gov. Miller has worked tirelessly to upgrade technology in every Georgia elementary, middle and high school, appropriating over $600 million in the last four years for software, hardware, and networking capability for classroom and media center computers.

Georgia also ranks first in the nation in production of educational programming, first in the number of students and schools served by satellite-based instruction, and first in the number of young children served by "ready-to-learn" programming.

Miller's efforts on the behalf of Georgia's teachers have not gone unnoticed either. Teachers in the state have received four straight 6 percent salary increases. Georgia's salaries now lead the Southeast and are poised to pass the national average.

Gov. Miller's other contributions to education in his state include the largest education construction program ever undertaken in Georgia's history, including $1 billion in higher education construction; almost tripling the state funds for adult literacy programs; and pushing through $20 million for after school reading programs for school children.

Advocacy for A Better Prepared Workforce and Choice for Parents

First elected in 1986, Gov. Thompson throughout his three terms has pursued an ambitious and innovative agenda focused on the economy, ending welfare, education reform, the environment and crime.

Although he is perhaps best known nationally for welfare reform, Gov. Thompson has pursued an aggressive approach to education reform in Wisconsin. Gov. Thompson's chief education goal is "to give parents the tools they need to ensure their children are receiving the best education."

"Learning must be a continual process for our children," Gov. Thompson says. "Our high standard of excellence applies to all schools in the state of Wisconsin, not just our high schools. We must make every grade count."

Gov. Thompson's national leadership on the issue of education reform was highlighted when, as chairman of the National Governors' Association and the Education Commission of the States, he convened the 1996 National Education Summit.

The nation's governors agreed at the summit to establish internationally competitive education standards by 1998. Business leaders from some of America's most important companies agreed to begin asking prospective employees for their high school transcripts and diplomas. They also agreed to base their business location decisions, in part, on the commitment of states and communities to enforcing high academic standards.

The Institute's Work

The Thomas H. Kean Governor of the Year Award is just one of the many activities the Institute on Education and Government undertakes. The Institute was created to provide powerful and effective support to governors and other leaders committed to education, providing ideas and research combined with implementation strategies committed to the core values of equity, excellence, integrity, fairness, and the operating principles of partnerships and measurable results.

The Institute oversees a series of programs designed to accomplish this mission, including:

  • Governors' Education Planning Program--Each year, through a competitive process, the Institute will select three governors with whom it will work to help develop comprehensive educational programs in their states.
  • Leadership Seminars for Governors' Staff--The Institute and the National Governors Association co-sponsor seminars for governors' chiefs of staff. Seminars feature national leaders who specialize in strategic education planning, press relations, and key education reform issues such as redesigning problem schools for success, setting standards and assessment models, and improving teacher training.
  • Governors' Briefing Report--The Institute provides carefully selected and useable information to governors and their key staff members. The material is summarized in a quarterly titled The Governors' Briefing Report. Contributions to the briefing are written by the country's leading education planners, current and former governors, researchers, pollsters associated with education trends, and opinion leaders.
  • National Education Advocacy--The Institute is developing a national trust fund for education technology.

The Institute on Education and Government works with the full support of the graduate school of education rated the nation's best by US News & World Report. Teachers College is the nation's largest graduate school devoted to education across the lifespan and both in and out of the classroom. It is an affiliate of Columbia University but retains its legal and financial independence.

For more information about the Thomas H. Kean Governor of the Year Awards or the Institute on Education and Government at Teachers College, contact Gaston Caperton, director, or Valerie Henning-Piedmonte, associate director, at: Institute on Education and Government, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, Box 34, NY, NY 10027, phone: (212) 778-8402 or 8239, fax (212) 678-8231, email: ieg@columbia.edu.

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