Senior Fellow, The Discovery Institute. Chairman of the American Center for Transforming Education
How did your interest in education begin?
I was a very lucky businessman and was able to retire in my early 50s. I decided I was too young to retire and so picked public education as the area where I would spend the rest of my working life. It has turned into a 25 year passion that I still love.
How have you been involved in education, professionally or as an advocate, over the years?
I'm not an educator and don't claim to be one. I'm a "systems" guy and I believe we have an obsolete education system. My efforts have been devoted to figuring out what a new system should look like and how to make such a system a reality.
What one or two education issues are you most passionate about (and why)?
My goal is to help orchestrate a system change. I believe that has to occur at the state level, not at the federal or local level. Thus, my efforts are focused on changing state laws and codes to allow for the creation of a new education system that effectively educates all of our children.
Tell us about an educator who made a particularly large impact on your life.
He wasn't an educator, but he was a "change agent." John Stanford, former superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, was the most effective leader I have ever met. The educator that impacted me most was my high school English teacher, Ms. Wilson. She gave me the tools to be able to write and speak well and she gave me great encouragement to pursue my dreams.
Share an unusual/fun fact about yourself.
My wife says that I have "failed retirement." She is right as I love being involved with education issues and will probably still be working on the issues from my death bed. I'm also an immigrant. My parents were both born in Denmark and immigrated to Canada so I was born in Canada. I went through the naturalization process when I was 16 and became an American citizen at that time.