Two Longtime State Education Leaders Receive National Honor

Oct 14, 2011, 07:00 ET from National Association of State Boards of Education

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 14, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- State education leaders from Illinois and Maine are the recipients of the 2011 Distinguished Service Award by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). The national award is given annually to state board of education members in recognition of outstanding service to public education.


"Through their continued diligence and devotion to the needs of students, Jesse Ruiz and Nancy Perkins exemplify what it means to be state board members," said NASBE Executive Director Brenda Welburn. "Hundreds of board members serve their states every year and their accomplishments remain largely unsung even though state boards provide an independent voice for the public in developing and implementing education policy for the nation's schoolchildren. Today we celebrate the accomplishments and vision of two people who so ably further the cause of quality public education not only in their home states, but everywhere in the U.S."

Jesse Ruiz served on the Illinois State Board of Education from the time of its reconstitution in 2004 until 2011, when he left to serve as vice chairman of the Chicago Board of Education. During his tenure as the state board chairman, Mr. Ruiz worked extensively on reducing the dropout rate and increasing the graduation rate with the board raising the legal dropout age from 16 to 17. Under his leadership, the board clarified rules for enrolling students, making it easier for homeless, migrant, and other students in at-risk situations access to public education.

Nancy Perkins has worked in education for 30 years and has served on the Maine State Board of Education since 2009. In just two years, she has shown great leadership on the board in many ways, including a major role in the development of the Maine board's five-year strategic plan, as well as chairing the Certification and Higher Education Committee and testifying before legislative committees. Mrs. Perkins is also the board's representative on the state Professional Standards Board and serves on a stakeholders' group that is reviewing educator preparation programs.

The awards are being presented at NASBE's national conference in Atlanta on October 14.

The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America's state and territorial boards of education. NASBE exists to strengthen State Boards as the preeminent educational policymaking bodies for citizens and students. For more, visit

SOURCE National Association of State Boards of Education