Winter, Reed very deserving of Partners in Education Award, Tribute

Published 2:38 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Editor:

The Mississippi Association of Partners in Education announced the establishment of an award named in honor of Governor William Winter and Tupelo businessman Jack Reed, Sr. at a dinner held recently in Jackson. The Winter-Reed Partnership Award recognizes the unwavering commitment to working together for education that these two fine gentlemen have demonstrated throughout their lives.

Either of these men would be worthy of such a distinction on their own merits alone, but together they represent a force that has created dramatic changes in education in our state. We would not be where we are today without their tireless dedication and strong support.

Certainly, foremost among their accomplishments is the Education Reform Act of 1982. Early in his tenure as governor, Governor Winter appointed a Blue Ribbon Committee to study education and develop recommendations on how we could improve the funding method for schools. He appointed Jack Reed to the committee, which quickly elected him as the chair. The Blue Ribbon Committee went far beyond their original task and made numerous recommendations on how to improve learning outcomes for all students. Governor Winter took these recommendations and developed the legislation that became the Education Reform Act. After the proposed legislation failed to pass in two regular Legislative Sessions, Governor Winter went around the state and met with local educators, parents and community members to further discuss his proposals. Jack Reed helped build grass roots support for the recommendations because he knew they could dramatically improve education in Mississippi.

Governor Winter called a Special Session in December 1982. Although attendance across the state at Governor Winter’s stops to discuss the proposals indicated widespread support, there was still opposition in the Legislature. However, after much raucous debate, the Education Reform Act passed in the Special Session. There were numerous components that all played a part in improving education, but perhaps the two most notable aspects of the Education Reform Act were the establishment of public kindergarten and the establishment of a lay State Board of Education.

Jack Reed was appointed to serve on the first lay State Board by Winter’s successor, Governor Bill Allain, and was soon elected as its first chair by his fellow board members. That first State Board was charged with implementing the Education Reform Act and ensuring that all matters were discussed with the best interest of the children in mind. Reed set the tone and vision for the whole Board and their work resulted in great improvements in Mississippi’s classrooms.

Education in Mississippi has made tremendous progress in the last 25 years and Governor Winter and Jack Reed have continued to be an important voice for education. As advocates for education, they continue to inspire all of us with their courage, their determination and their spirit. They are true leaders and true statesmen.

Governor William Winter will always be known as the Education Governor. Jack Reed will always be known as a businessman who is passionate about education. They put partisanship aside because they were motivated by a single goal: improving student outcomes and opportunities for all the boys and girls of Mississippi. Their individual contributions to education and to Mississippi are immense, but collectively their contributions are immeasurable. Mississippi is a much better place for all of her citizens because of the incredible gifts of Governor William Winter and Jack Reed.