The governor received this year’s “America’s Greatest Education Governor Award” during the Association’s Representative Assembly. The annual award recognizes governors who have demonstrated exemplary achievements and accomplishments in advancing public education.
“Governor Patrick has a personal understanding of the difference that a good education can make,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “His own path—from the South Side of Chicago to Massachusetts and a successful life in business and politics—was made possible by the education he received, and he is passionate about providing every student with the same kind of opportunity to realize his or her dreams.”
In 2006, Patrick, the then-candidate, earned the recommendation of the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA), which believed he would protect public education in Massachusetts.
MTA leadership said he was “a man who understands that pubic education is the underpinning of our knowledge-based economy and has pledged to make strengthening our schools and colleges a priority.”
The state association has not regretted those words. The governor has funded education at the highest levels in the Commonwealth’s history, increasing funding for early childhood education, K-12, special education, and intervention programs. Under his leadership, the state has invested more than $2 billion in state colleges and universities.
During the early part of the Great Recession, Patrick brought other governors together to lobby the Obama Administration and Congress to provide federal stimulus funds to protect education. This saved 8,500 educator jobs in Massachusetts and most of the discretionary federal stimulus monies went to fund higher education.
The governor, in 2010, passed the Achievement Gap bill, which included the creation of Innovation Schools—in-district schools that have greater autonomy and flexibility with curriculum, staffing, budget, calendar, professional development, and district policies. These schools were developed with union, teacher, and administration approval to boost student outcomes.
Van Roekel underscored that it is by no accident the schools in Massachusetts are among the best in the nation.
“Throughout his seven years as governor, he has been a friend and ally to the students of Massachusetts, as well as to the members of the MTA and local affiliates,” says the NEA president. “He has stood with MTA in challenging the misconception that unions are an obstacle to positive change, and he has been a willing partner who has worked with our members to improve student learning.”
NEA created the “America’s Greatest Education Governor Award” in 2008 to annually recognize and honor governors who have made major strides at the state level to improve public schools. Other recipients of the award include Governors Jerry Brown of California, Martin O’Malley of Maryland, Bill Richardson of New Mexico and Michael F. Easley of North Carolina.