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First Thomas H. Kean Award Honors Gov. Zell Miller (D-GA), Gov. Tommy Thompson (R-WI) for Commitment to Education

On April 8, the Institute on Education and Government at TC, headed by former West Virginia Governor Gaston Caperton, is going to recognize two governors--Zell Miller (D-GA) and Tommy G. Thompson (R-WI)--as state leaders whose vision for public education has most transformed schools across the nation.

Governors Miller and Thompson will be presented the first Thomas H. Kean Governor of the Year Awards in a ceremony in the Milbank Chapel. "The awards, which will be offered annually, underscore the important role governors play in shaping state education policy, and by extension, nationwide efforts," said TC President Arthur Levine.

The director of the Institute is Gaston Caperton, former two-term Governor of West Virginia. Caperton's accomplishments as governor are cited by policymakers and researchers around the country as models of programs that have greatly improved schools.

Under Governor Caperton's leadership, West Virginia became nationally recognized as a leader in the use of technology in the classroom. His administration also started programs to train teachers, raise teachers' salaries, and build and repair schools.

The Institute was established in 1997 to provide support for governors and other public officials committed to education. Its activities include co-sponsoring seminars with the National Governors' Association, working one-on-one with states and taking a national leadership role on key issues, like the use of technology in the classroom.

The award is named after Thomas H. Kean, who was governor of New Jersey from 1982 through 1990. Kean is currently the president of Drew University, a TC trustee, and chairman of the Institute.

Levine said: "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."

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 180,000 children have participated in Miller's voluntary kindergarten program, the only one in the nation available to all four-year-olds.

Most recently, the Georgia Governor 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.

In Wisconsin, Gov. Thompson has pursued reforms that make school more relevant to more students, 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.

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 Governor's office often serves as an incubator for ideas about improving the quality of public education," said Caperton. "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," Caperton continued, "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."

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