RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia has been named the new chair of the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB). He succeeds North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue, who was recognized at the SREB Annual Meeting in June for her service as the SREB chair over the past year. With 16 member states from Texas to Delaware, SREB works to improve pre-K-12 and higher education and student achievement across the region.
Since taking office in January 2010, Governor McDonnell has launched a number of outstanding education reforms as part of his work to create more jobs and opportunities for all Virginians.
“I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work with my counterparts in our region to enhance the access education, to improve hard-to-staff and underperforming schools, and to develop ways to make the dream of a college education more affordable for all who wish to pursue it,” Governor McDonnell said.
Regarding this new appointment, SREB President Dave Spence commented, “Governor McDonnell has an excellent record of education reform during his first year and a half in office, focusing on school innovation and critical efforts to increase college readiness, access and completion. SREB is proud to have another distinguished leader from the Commonwealth of Virginia serving as our board chair. We look forward to working with the governor and his staff over the next year.”
In announcing the selection of Governor McDonnell as chair, SREB cited the following in its press release:
During the first legislative session of his administration, Governor McDonnell garnered wide broad partisan support for his "Opportunity to Learn" legislative agenda, which offers more education options and innovation to all Virginia schoolchildren. The legislation called for improving the application and review process for public charter, developing criteria and encouraging the implementation of virtual school programs, and establishing college partnership laboratory schools.
In March 2010, he created the Governor's Commission on Higher Education Reform, Innovation and Investment through Executive Order Nine, which includes the presidents of eight Virginia colleges and universities, as well as business, education policy and government officials. The commission recommended several policy changes for making higher education more affordable and accessible for Virginians, and expanding pathways to earning a college degree.
These recommendations led to the passage of and governor signing the “Preparing for the Top Jobs of the 21st Century: The Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011." The Top Jobs legislation will increase both student access and affordability of higher education in the Commonwealth, with the goal of awarding 100,000 more degrees over the next 15 years. It is designed to increase innovation and concentrations in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) at Virginia's colleges and universities. Additionally, the governor made reform-based investments of over $100 million for greater use of technology, innovative and economical degree paths, financial aid for middle-class families and research.
The governor’s recent pilot project, the Virginia Performance-Pay Incentives initiative for hard-to-staff schools, received bi-partisan approval by the 2011 General Assembly and will provide a foundation for compensation reform that will reward excellence and attract new talent to the Commonwealth’s classrooms. The pay initiative provides $3 million in state funding to reward teachers in hard-to-staff schools that earn exemplary ratings during the 2011-2012 school year.
As the Chair of SREB’s 80-member board, Governor McDonnell is expected to continue to urge states to prepare more students for college and career training and to raise college degree-completion rates. Only a little more than half of first-time, full-time freshmen in four-year public colleges and universities graduate with a bachelor’s degree within six years nationally and in the SREB region.
The Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB, based in Atlanta, was created in 1948 by southern governors and legislatures to help leaders in education and government work cooperatively to advance education and improve the social and economic life of the region. SREB has 16 member states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. More information is available online at www.sreb.org.