My "Education" Biography

I like to say that I have done many things in my life – sold tractors, owned a flight school, owned and operated a ski area, climbed the Matterhorn, served as governor of Colorado for three terms and chaired the Democratic National Committee.

But my interest in and involvement with America’s schools goes back a long way. Those decades of involvement have convinced me that in an age of globalization, outsourcing of jobs, and cutting-edge technology, education is absolutely key for the future success of our society. I don’t think I am overstating my feelings.

Before joining Strong American Schools and ED in 08, I spent six years as the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) – the second largest school district in the country. I finished my tenure last year.

During my time in L.A., I focused on three areas: Creating a rigorous curriculum, high expectations for students and teachers, and professional development. I think those efforts contributed to our student test scores rising much faster than the statewide average.

We got four bond issues passed, which raised $19.3 billion to build new schools for a district that had not built a full new high school in 30 years! These schools will help relieve overcrowding and cross-town busing … and make it easier for some L.A. students to learn.

I chaired the Education Commission of the States in 1994 and 1995, and was the first chairman of the National Education Goals Panel. That group developed the first national education report card.

I also served as co-vice chairman of Achieve, an effort by the nation's governors and major corporate leaders to reform education by the use of standards and assessments.

Finally on the education front, Mike Leavitt – who was the governor of Utah at the time – and I spearheaded the development of Western Governors University, an innovative, "virtual university," now available online to people throughout the western United States.

Most of my public career has involved Colorado politics and public office. I served three terms as governor from 1987 to 1999. I was State Treasurer from 1977-1987, and I served in the Colorado Senate from 1962-1966 and the Colorado House from 1958-1962.

Bea – my wife – and I have seven children and 18 grandchildren.

There’s a lot more about me – probably more than anyone cares to know – on Wikipedia. I’m told most of it’s accurate.