Lowell Milken: Quotes


Human Capital

“The only people who develop human potential and character as a calling are educators. This puts the men and women who become teachers and principals in a position of unique power for helping to secure the future for young people.”


“Global competition makes education more important than ever before. The challenges to our economy and way of life are coming from many more directions and at an ever-faster rate. To meet them, America must have students and graduates in increasing numbers who are not only highly literate, numerate and conversant in the humanities and sciences, but who are creative, motivated and confident...who are able and willing to think independently...and who possess integrity. And the people who teach and prepare these students—our nation's educators—are doing nothing less than laying the foundation for our national security.”


“There is something inherently optimistic about the fact that we can create and foster what our society most needs in order to flourish. Far from being finite and nonrenewable, the world's most important resource—human capital—is limitless and generative. It is up to each of us to make the most of this opportunity.”


“As the shift to a knowledge-based economy accelerates, we find that traditional balance sheets are becoming less and less accurate. Today, the real assets of a city, state or country are its people and their productive capacity.”


“In business, the most important lesson I have learned is that there is one currency that always plays the key role in forming value, and that is human capital—the knowledge, skills and experiences of people. In K-12 education, the same principle applies. We know from research that aside from home and family, the single most important factor driving student performance is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. The difference between an effective and ineffective teacher can be a full grade level of student achievement in a single year.”


“Collectively, we all need to develop better ways of keeping ourselves open to creative ideas, for the more we understand about education and what it can be, the more clearly we see that nurtured creativity is the seed, and human achievement the flower.”


“Broad-scale change is at work in all sectors and professions, and meeting it head-on has become part of the human condition.”


“So often we hear the phrase that 'children are our greatest hope.' Well, they are a great source of hope—mainly because of their innocence and potential. But before children can be our hope, we must be theirs; and we are their hope when we teach them that there is a difference between right and wrong. When they feel empathy and know the respect for life that flows from it. When they understand that cynicism is a kind of violence and that all violence is intolerable. When they believe in the power of loyalty and duty. When, in other words, we have given them a compass and shown them that north is constant, and that each of them can chart his or her own course toward the right thing.”


“We need to understand that investments in all forms of capital—physical, financial, human, and social—complement one another, and when we revitalize the community, we foster the environment in which our investments in education and jobs will flourish.”


"Human capital is the beating heart of education. And developing strong human capital is not only the goal of education, it is the means to achieving that goal. For without vibrant, engaged, excellent educators, there is little chance of producing students with those qualities."


Education Reform

“There is an equation at the center of the proposition of education that is as appealing as it is basic: All we have to do is think about what we want for every child, and we shall know what to provide every teacher—rich opportunities, high expectations, and sound preparation for the future. This is what every child needs and this is what all teachers deserve."


“Every young person deserves the high-quality educational experience that only a talented teacher can provide. What’s more, our nation’s future strength is directly linked to the effectiveness of our educators.”


“For the past three decades, the Milken Family Foundation has supported the generative partnership among America's best educators, policymakers, and business, academic, foundation and community leaders. We know that the challenges of school reform require this kind of ongoing collaboration."


“While education is a national opportunity, it remains, regrettably, a national problem...and a problem of such scope and seeming intractability that we at the Foundation concluded long ago that the solution must be both exponential in its reach and overarching in its purpose. Not surprisingly, the key to the solution is the human element, for human capital is the decisive factor in all endeavors of abiding importance. In education, of course, the person endowed with the exponential power to make a difference is the talented educator.”


“The goal of TAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement is nothing less than to have a highly skilled, highly motivated, competitively compensated, utterly committed and unequivocally proud teacher in every classroom in the country.”


“The fact is that none of the hundreds of costly school-reform efforts over the past decades have had the scope, force and focus to attract high-caliber talent to the teaching profession, and then reward and motivate the talent to stay.”


Teacher Quality

“As we think about the next generation of educators who will serve in our most challenging schools, working with students who will face the greatest barriers to learning, we must provide them with the opportunity to maximize their potential.”


“As exceptional educators, each of you has the power to accomplish extraordinary deeds to shape lives, and sometimes, even to save lives.”


“Teachers and principals have the most important job in our country today, the awesome responsibility to help prepare every young person for life in a most challenging 21st century. As geographic location continues to be less and less relevant, students will find themselves competing for high-level jobs with young people throughout the world. Academic excellence will ultimately be judged not merely by what is happening in your city, state or even the nation, but by the education provided in China, India, and the rest of the world. Talented teachers play a critical role in this process.”


“The need to assure that every child has the opportunity afforded by good teachers is urgent. As urgent as the need to be well nourished and for exactly the same reason. A child's growth depends on it.”


“Good teachers are to education what education is to all other professions—the indispensable element, the sunlight and oxygen, the foundation on which everything else is built.”


“The starting point for outstanding education must be the expertise of the practitioner. But it is the force of the educator's character that, in the end, shapes the way students learn and understand and care about what they're being taught. It can extinguish an interest just as surely as it can kindle a career.”


"The quality of an educational system cannot exceed the quality of its educators."


“Education is at the heart of nearly everything we value as individuals, as citizens and as productive human beings.”


Teacher Recognition

“If we are to achieve the promise of education for all young people... we must focus reform efforts on the predominant human capital component in the system—talented teachers—people who are the heart and soul of education, the inspiration for the young people they teach. Yes, if we are to make education the answer for every young person in our nation, then we need to find ways to elevate the teaching profession by providing not only powerful opportunities for recognition, but opportunities for professional growth as well.”


“My hope is that by shining the light of the Milken Educator Award on exemplary educators and their accomplishments, it will not only help their students remember, but also create a bright glow that spreads to the entire profession, spotlighting the pivotal role that educators play in our society.”


“The reward for great leadership in your schools, in your communities, in your state and the nation, is expanded leadership. Yes, the reward for excellence in education is more responsibility.”


“We are here with a message that more and more people from all walks of life are coming to realize: that education is the most important of all professions. That educators are its lifeblood. That good education is essential to personal freedom and national security, and that teachers and principals make that education happen. These are not slogans. These are truths. And our goal is to help make these truths known to as many people as we can.”


“That education is the most important of all professions is a message the public should hear and understand. And, as importantly, a message that our educators need to hear as well.”


“By significantly and publicly acknowledging the work and talent of individual educators, not only are the people teaching our children elevated and emulated, but the profession itself is raised up.”


“The power of recognition is one of the strongest forces for stimulating human and social action. Yes, recognition is a powerful motivator—to those who receive it as well as those who observe it.”


Education Technology

“Educators and students need tools that reflect the time in which we live, as well as the era into which we're moving. That means they need technology. But make no mistake—technology is no more the cure-all for all the needs of education than the x-ray was for those of medicine. Technology is a bridge, not a destination.”