John C. Austin Elected President of the State Board of Education January 11, 2011Contact: Martin Ackley, Director of Communications 517.241.4395Agency: Education
LANSING - John C. Austin was unanimously elected President of the State Board of Education today, saying he is eager to continue working in a bi-partisan manner on the State Board, and with Governor Rick Snyder, and the state legislature.
Austin said he is proud that during his 10 years on the State Board, that the Board has functioned as a bi-partisan change agent for education reform and improvement. The State Board of Education currently consists of five Democrats and three Republicans.
"We need to find much common ground and advance education improvement and reforms to providing opportunity for our citizens and creating a better educated state that will succeed in re-booting our economy for the 21st Century," Austin said.
The State Board elected others of its members to Board offices. Casandra Ulbrich was elected Vice President, Nancy Danhof was elected Secretary, Marianne Yared McGuire was re-elected Treasurer, and Richard Zeile was elected to represent the State Board on the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE).
Kathleen Straus, the longest-serving President of the State Board of Education, chose not to run for re-election. Elected to the Board in 1992, Straus served as President from 1997-1998; and again from 2001 until the present.
"We have a very impressive State Board that is focused on the children of Michigan and transforming the way our education system operates and is accountable to the people of Michigan," said state Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan. "I look forward to working with them to continue moving Michigan forward."
Austin said he wants to focus the State Board's priorities on "improving academic performance and outcomes for all learners, and helping to develop a true performance-based education system."
"We have to insist on performance," Austin said. "All kids can learn. No kids fail. No schools fail. If they do, let's fix them, or provide effective alternatives.
"We need to make sure that teachers are prepared to succeed, supported, and mentored on the job, and given tools, training, development and on-going career and professional support to make sure they are helping young people learn," Austin added.