Conservative Leaders for Education is a new campaign comprised of leading state lawmakers and education chairs focused on ensuring conservative principles gain traction in state policy decisions as states begin to develop accountability plans under the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
The enactment of ESSA which supplants No Child Left Behind (NCLB) decidedly returns the principal authority of education policymaking to its rightful place: states and localities. We are now requiring states to develop state-specific implementation plans covering things like teacher evaluations, assessments, and plans on how they will intervene in the states’ lowest performing schools.
ESSA presents us with a unique window of time to weigh in and shape education policies in a way that leaves a lasting and meaningful imprint. Conservatives currently control more state legislatures than at any time in modern history. Let’s seize the day and create a brighter future for education in America.
William J. Bennett
William J. Bennett is one of America’s most important, influential, and respected voices on cultural, political, and education issues. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Bill Bennett studied philosophy at Williams College (B.A.) and the University of Texas (Ph.D.) and earned a law degree (J.D.) from Harvard. He is currently the Chairman of Conservative Leaders for Education and serves on the Advisory Board of Udacity, one of the world’s leading online education organizations, as well as the Advisory Board of Viridis Learning, Inc. He is also a Senior Advisor to HigherEducation.com, which specializes in assisting universities in marketing their degrees.
Over the course of his professional life, in education, government and the private sector, Dr. Bennett has succeeded in a trifecta of American institutions. He is an award-winning professor in academia, having taught at Boston University, the University of Texas, and Harvard; he is a three-time confirmed executive in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations including holding two cabinet-level positions, Secretary of Education under Ronald Reagan and the Nation’s first Drug Czar under the first President Bush. He was formerly the host of Morning in America, one of the largest national talk shows in the country, and is now host of The Bill Bennett Interview, a nationally syndicated series of exclusive, in-depth interviews aired across the country on the Salem Radio Network. And he is also an experienced technology entrepreneur, having been the founding Chairman of K12.com a multi-billion dollar online education company. He is the author of more than 24 books, including two New York Times number one best sellers and two of the most successful books of the 1990s.
Mary Scott Hunter
Mary Scott Hunter is a conservative reformer on Alabama’s State Board of Education where she is a leader in the fight to strengthen education and prepare students for college and career through such measures as early reading proficiency, course access, strong career tech, data quality, and the teacher pipeline. She is an attorney and works in-house at Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation in Huntsville, AL.
Mary Scott is a proud product of Alabama public schools, graduating from Fairhope High School in 1991. She graduated from The University of Alabama in 1995 then attended The University of Alabama School of Law. After graduating from law school in 1998, Mary Scott was commissioned as a United States Air Force Lieutenant. She served ten years as an Air Force Judge Advocate General. As a military attorney, she first served in the active duty Air Force, then in the Reserves, and finally in the Alabama Air National Guard – attaining the rank of Major. She earned her M.B.A. from the University of Alabama in 2017.
Mary Scott’s husband, Lieutenant Colonel (r) Jon Shultz, is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy and a former F16 fighter pilot. Jon and Mary Scott have three children who attend public school.
Representative Paul Boyer
State Representative Paul Boyer was first elected in 2013 and represents legislative district 20, which include much of Glendale and parts of North Phoenix.
Representative Boyer is the Chairman of the House Education Committee and is a member of the House Health, and House County and Municipal Affairs Committees.
Representative Boyer is an Arizona native who grew up in the West Valley, attended Deer Valley high school, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from ASU West with a Bachelors in English and a Masters in Communication Studies. Previously, he was an official spokesman and policy advisor for House Majority at the State Capitol for three years, the legislative liaison for the Arizona Department of Corrections for three years and the Supervisor of District Communications for Mesa Public Schools, the largest school district in the state. Currently, he is an instructor at the University of Phoenix and is qualified to teach the U.S. Constitution, Public Speaking, Mass Communication, Oral Communication, Public Speaking for the IT Professional and Media Influences on American Culture.
Representative Boyer is a newlywed, having recently married his wife Beth. His parents, Fred and Sharon live in Glendale. He is a consistent advocate for common sense conservative principles: life, education, public safety, job creation and economic development.
Senator Owen Hill
State Senator Owen Hill represents the citizens of Senate District 10 in El Paso County. Senator Hill serves as chair of the Senate Education Committee. He also serves as vice chair of Finance and is a member of the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.
Owen is an Air Force Academy Graduate with a Ph.D. in Economics from the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He currently serves as the CFO for a non-profit and also owns his own management consulting company.
Senator Hill and his wife Emily have four children: Kaiden (7), Miette (5), Ellis (4), and Elinor (2). His goal is to continue to advocate for the ideas that will create jobs and make us successful in the 21st century.
Representative Michael Bileca
State Representative Michael Bileca was first elected in 2010 parts of Miami Dade County. He is the current chairman of the House Education Committee. In his time in the legislature he has passed significant education reform legislation such as expanding choice options for children with special needs, children trapped in failing schools as well as the nations largest Educational Savings Account program.
Representative is a graduate of Tulane University with a degree in business and minor in Philosophy. He also received his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. He founded a healthcare company that currently employs 3,000 team members and supports 500 doctors across the country.
He is married to Vivian Bileca and has three sons. His family’s foundation supports schools that focus on virtue based education grounded in the classical tradition that rekindle the belief that the true purpose of education is to develop virtue and character and a love for those things that are true and good.
Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle
A successful entrepreneur and respected former State Senator, Casey Cagle made history in 2006 by becoming the first Republican ever elected to Georgia’s second highest office. After winning re-election in November of 2010, Georgia voters overwhelmingly re-elected him again in November 2014, returning Lt. Governor Cagle to office for his third term.
Lt. Governor Cagle has established himself as a bold leader and champion for education and economic development. His business experience and outlook propelled him to prominent leadership roles under the Gold Dome, allowing him to bring a common sense private sector approach to state government.
He has dedicated his life to public service, supporting free enterprise solutions, ensuring all children in Georgia have access to a personalized educational environment suited for their individual talents and needs, and improving health and wellness for our youth.
In October of last year, Casey published his first book, Education Unleashed, to outline his vision for a public education system that will develop the strongest workforce in the world. In addition to celebrating achievements realized under his leadership, Education Unleashed charts a bold path forward for Georgia’s future. Notwithstanding his many accomplishments in private and public life, Casey is most proud to be a husband, father and grandfather.
Senator Mike Wilson
State Senator Mike Wilson was first elected to serve in the Senate in 2010. His district includes Warren County, the cities of Bowling Green, Alvaton, Oakland, Woodburn, Smiths Grove, and Rockfield. Senator Wilson served as the former chair of the Senate Education Committee before his appointment to Majority Whip.
Senator Wilson is a graduate of California State University and has an Associates of Arts from Fullerton College. In December of 1972 He joined the United States Marine Corps serving his country for 8 ½ years. He is currently the Director of Sales & Marketing at Davert USA Inc. which is a metal fabricator providing metal manufactured tooling and specialty items to the manufacturing industry and specifically automotive assembly plants like GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Kia, BMW, and many more.
Senator Wilson and his wife Deanna has five children, Michael Jr., Dawn, Sam, Grace, and Jessie. He is very involved in the community as a member of The Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber Ambassador’s Club. He has served on the Agri-Business Committee and the Government Relations Committee. He helped develop the Police Chaplain Program for the Bowling Green Police Department and served as a Police Chaplain for a period of time.
Representative Amanda Price
State Representative Amanda Price was first elected to serve in the House in 2010. Her Ottawa County district includes the townships of Grand Haven, Olive, Park, Port Sheldon, Robinson, Blendon, Crockery and Spring Lake, and the cities of Ferrysburg and Grand Haven. She was re-elected to her seat for a third term in November 2014. Representative Price serves as chair of the House Education Committee. She also serves as vice chair of the Local Government committee and is a member of the Communications and Technology, Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, and Workforce and Talent Development committees.
Representative Price is a graduate of Michigan State University, the Institute for Paralegal Training (Philadelphia, Pa), and holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Western Michigan University. In her professional career, she served as Park Township trustee for ten years and supervisor for two years. She is a former legislative aide to Sen. Patty Birkholz, and also was the public affairs manager for SemcoEnergy.
Representative Price has been married to her husband Rodger for over thirty years. Their family includes two sons, Nate and Collin, Nate’s wife Dina, Collin’s wife Becky, a granddaughter, Evelyn, and two grandsons, Braxton and Camden. They attend Fellowship Reformed Church. Price has served on the boards of several charitable organizations, including the Holland Area Chamber of Commerce, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council Policy Committee, West Michigan Airport Authority, and the Children’s Advocacy Center.
Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury
Assemblywoman Melissa Woodbury represents Assembly District 23 and has been an member since 2008 serving in four regular and four special sessions. She currently serves as Chair of the Assembly Education Committee and is a member of the Government Affairs and Transportation committees as well.
In her time in the legislature, Melissa has fought to protect the critical education funding that students in Nevada deserve. She has pushed for responsible economic policies to get the economy back on track, ensuring that Nevada is a place where businesses, both large and small, can thrive.
Assemblywoman Woodbury graduated from Boulder City High School and received her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Brigham Young University and earned a Masters degree in Education from Southern Utah University. Following college, Ms. Woodbury began her teaching career in Clark County. The majority of her time in the classroom has been spent working with students with special needs. For the past nine years Melissa has taught at Sue H. Morrow Elementary School where she currently teaches third grade and earlier taught children with autism, working to help them become more independent and functional in everyday situations.
Melissa has taught bilingual special education, traditional special education as well as traditional elementary classes. Her experiences working with those who face unique challenges in life and those less fortunate helped shape who Melissa is, and her desire to help improve the lives of others. She realizes everyone needs a chance to learn and have a caring hand in their lives.
Raised in Boulder City, Melissa Woodbury is a lifetime resident of Southern Nevada. The oldest daughter of Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury and Rose Woodbury, Melissa has three brothers and three sisters. When not with students or family, Melissa enjoys baseball, the outdoors, traveling and musical theater.She loves experiencing different cultures and discovering the many treasures the world holds. This intrigue of new places and people led Melissa to live in France for a year prior to college and study abroad in Israel, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe during her time at BYU. Additionally, Melissa served a full-time mission in Argentina for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where she became fluent in Spanish.
Senator Peggy Lehner
State Senator Peggy Lehner is currently serving her first full term as the State Senator for the 6th Ohio Senate District, representing portions of Montgomery County. Lehner is no stranger to public service, having served one term in the Ohio House of Representatives as well as 10 years as a member of Kettering City Council. Prior to serving on City Council, Senator Lehner served on the Ohio Ethics Commission, serving two terms as the Commission Chair.
This legislative session, Senator Lehner has been appointed to her third term as the Chairwoman of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, as well as Vice-Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee. In addition to her committee leadership responsibilities, she also serves on the Criminal Justice and Medicaid Committees. She also represents Ohio on the Midwestern Higher Education Compact and is an ex-officio member of both the State Board of Education and the Board of Regents.
During her time in the legislature Senator Lehner has demonstrated a passionate interest in the well-being of children through her role as a co-chair of the Ohio Children’s Caucus. The Ohio Children’s Caucus is a bipartisan, bicameral organization of legislators committed to advancing the health and well-being of Ohio’s children through unified legislative action. Senator Lehner has also been at the forefront of efforts to align K-12 education with college and career readiness, working with stakeholders from across the country to find innovative solutions to Ohio’s challenges.
Senator Lehner attended both American College in Paris and St. Mary’s of the Woods College, where she obtained a degree in history. She and her husband James reside in Kettering and have five grown children and 12 grandchildren.
Senator Dolores Gresham
Senator Dolores Gresham was first elected in 2002. She served in the Tennessee House of Representatives for six years. Dolores represented District 94 until 2008 when she was elected to the State Senate.
She is Chairman of the Senate Education Committee. She also serves as the Vice-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.
Dolores possesses a track record of over 40 years in public and community service. In her campaign for the Senate, Senator Gresham was often quoted: “I bring to this campaign a passion for people, a track record of principled leadership, and a history of serving the public trust. I will continue to serve you honorably and effectively.”
Her education includes a Bachelors of Arts degree from Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas. She received a Master of Arts degree from Loyola of New Orleans, and a Master of Science in Administration from George Washington University, Washington D.C.
As chair of the State Board of Education (SBOE), Donna Bahorich is committed to preparing all children to be productive, engaged citizens. She has worked diligently to approve and promote college and career ready courses, including strong career and technical education courses, leading to increased opportunities for students after high school. Donna is also passionate about approving effective public charter schools that successfully prepare children and offer more choices for families throughout Texas. She brings experience in business, education and legislation to the position. Donna was appointed as chair of the State Board of Education in June 2015 after serving most of the western half of Harris County as the District 6 representative.
After graduating from Virginia Tech University with a Bachelor of Science in financial management, Donna began a career in the telecommunications industry. As an active community volunteer, Donna also served as a member of the West Houston P-16 Council, graduated from the Leadership Houston program, served as president of the Daughters of Liberty Republican Women, and served as a member of the pastor’s council at the Vineyard Church of Houston. Donna and Mike Bahorich have been married for 35 years and have three sons and five grandchildren.
Senator Howard Stephenson
State Senator Howard Stephenson serves as the Senate Chairman for the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee for Utah.
Senator Stephenson received a B.S. degree in psychology and aerospace studies from Brigham Young University, and a Master of Public Administration, also from Brigham Young University. Since then, he has worked as a taxpayer advocate and in 2014, he served as President of the Utah Taxpayers Association. He is also a radio host in his free time.
As a Utah State Senator, Stephenson is well-positioned to influence Utah legislation relating to education and to state revenues issues.
Senator Luther Olsen
Luther Olsen was born and raised in Berlin, Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Berlin High School and received a degree from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Luther was elected to the Wisconsin State Senate in 2004, after serving in the State Assembly for 10 years.
For the 2015-2016 Legislative Sessions, Senator Olsen serves as the Chair of the Education Committee, the Vice-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, the Vice-Chair of the Insurance, Housing, and Trade Committee, and is a member of the Natural Resource Committee. Senator Olsen also serves on the Executive Committee and Steering Committee for the Education Commission of the States (ECS), he previously served as the Vice-Chair of ECS, and formerly served as the Co-Chair of the Education Committee for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
Prior to being elected to the Legislature, Luther was a member of the Berlin Area School Board for 20 years, serving 9 of those years as board President. He and his wife Joan currently reside in Ripon where they enjoy attending community and church functions and touring the state on their motorcycles.