Bowen Sworn in as Education Chief

Press release from the Office of Governor Paul LePage

Augusta, Maine – Governor Paul LePage administered the oath to Stephen Bowen Friday afternoon. Bowen becomes Maine’s 27th Education Commissioner. Bowen was endorsed by the Maine Senate Thursday by a vote of 25-10.

“I have asked Steve Bowen to be our Commissioner of Education because we want a teacher leading our efforts to put students first,” said Governor LePage. “Our graduating seniors need to be ready for a job in a good-paying trade or prepared for college level work. And we have to inspire our at-risk kids before they make the decision to give up and drop out of school. It is a big job and we are going to get Steve the resources and flexibility he needs to get it done.”

“Teachers, school administrators and superintendents are working harder than ever, spending more time poring over data, developing customized learning plans for more and more kids, and testing, testing, and testing some more. Yet we are simply not moving the needle. Too many of our kids drop out of school, and too many of the kids that do graduate are not prepared for college and careers,” Stephen Bowen said before the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee earlier this week. “We need to put a plan in place that drives education policy in a specific direction and focuses our state’s resources where they will have the biggest impact on kids.”

Before joining the Department, Stephen Bowen directed the Center for Education Excellence at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a Portland-based public policy think tank. In his three-and-a-half years there, he researched and wrote dozens of policy briefs on issues from school consolidation and school funding to online learning and charter schools, authored numerous op-eds, columns, and blog posts on education-related issues, and regularly presented the findings of his research to policymakers and the public.

Bowen taught social studies in middle and high schools for 10 years in Fairfax County, Virginia, and then in Camden, prior to joining the Center. He taught in Fairfax County from 1997 to 2000, taking advantage of that district’s excellent teacher induction and professional development opportunities, and being part of that state’s development of a standards-based approach to education. At Camden-Rockport Middle School he taught social studies and was there when Maine’s nationally and internationally recognized middle school laptop program was first implemented, with the deployment of laptops to eighth graders in the fall of 2003. He has experienced the implementation of state education policy at the level where it matters most – the classroom.

In 2002, he was elected to the first of two terms in the Maine House of Representatives, representing Camden and Rockport. During that time, he served on the Marine Resources and State and Local Government Committees, and the Select Committee on Regionalization and Community Cooperation. He served on the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee during his second term in the House.

Bowen’s proudest legislative achievement during his two terms in the Legislature was working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to enact a state salary supplement for teachers who have achieved certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The number of board certified teachers in Maine has more than doubled since then.

Bowen has a B.A. in Political Science from Drew University and a Masters of Education from George Mason University.