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NEA names Maryland’s Martin O’Malley ‘America’s Greatest Education Governor’

Award presented at NEA’s Annual Meeting in New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS - July 05, 2010 -

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley received the America’s Greatest Education Governor Award from the National Education Association (NEA) today during the NEA’s Representative Assembly in New Orleans. The prestigious award is presented each year to a governor who has made major, statewide efforts to improve public education.  

“Governor O’Malley took office in 2007, just months before the nation plunged into a deep recession,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “Despite the economic devastation to his state, he kept his eye on the big picture—he understands that the recipe for economic recovery and success means preparing Maryland’s young people for the challenges of the 21st century.

“Governor O’Malley is a strong advocate for public education,” Van Roekel added. “He has made great strides in increasing school funding, expanding school programs, and taking the needs of the whole child into account in education policy decisions. O’Malley listens to parents, educators and community members when making policy decisions that affect Maryland’s public schools. He continues to be a champion of public education and truly believes, as we do, that education will lead to a brighter and better future for all of us.

“Lots of governors like to think of themselves as education governors, but Governor O’Malley has really earned that accolade.”

Under O’Malley, Maryland has made progress in closing the achievement gap. A key strategy has been the governor’s insistence that underprivileged and minority students be taught by teachers as highly qualified as those who teach economically advantaged students. That approach is paying off.  In 2009, for example, 7.5 percent of Hispanic students and 9.6 percent of African-American students earned a score of 3 or better on at least one AP exam during high school. That’s up from 5.7 percent and 7 percent, respectively, in 2004.    

O’Malley also secured a freeze on tuition to Maryland institutions of higher learning, making higher education more affordable for Marylanders.    

"Public education is the cornerstone of our democracy, and especially in these difficult times, we must remember that it is also the key to moving our economy forward and the key to our future,” said O’Malley. “In Maryland, we've made some very tough decisions to protect funding for our schools, and it is paying off.    

“We've worked with our Maryland teachers to create the No. 1 public school system in the nation. I'm honored that the NEA recognizes our strong partnership and the great results it has produced with this award.

“While as a country we don’t always do the best job at showing our appreciation,” O’Malley told NEA members, “your work is the answer to the great global challenges of our times and the key to unlocking our greatest job-creating potential and expanding our global leadership in a rapidly changing world. Improving pre-K, K-12, and post-secondary education is essential for unleashing the job-creating, life-saving, power of American innovation.”

NEA President Van Roekel presented the award to O’Malley in front of the 9,000 educators who are attending NEA’s Representative Assembly in New Orleans. The Maryland governor is only the third person to receive this award. Previous winners were Gov. Richardson of New Mexico and Gov. Easley of North Carolina.

Some of O’Malley’s other accomplishments: reinvigorating Maryland’s Career and Technology Education and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs statewide, and launching the comprehensive Maryland STEM Innovation Network to promote the delivery of high quality STEM education at all levels throughout the state.

“Governor O'Malley has consistently placed public education at the top of his agenda,” said Clara Floyd, president of the Maryland State Education Association."In the most difficult of economic times, he championed historic funding of K-12 public schools, which has increased student achievement and led us to become No. 1 in the nation.”  
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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Samantha Kappalman  (202) 316-3980,