As parents and their communities consider the available educational options for American children, questions arise. Many different alternative modes of education are presented by various individuals and groups who often promote a specific philosophy or agenda. One thing that all sides agree upon is that the individual who presents the educational material, be it a parent, a formal educator or another person, will have a great impact on the students' learning career.
Guiding children and preparing them to take their place in society, whether that involves pursuing further studies after high school or joining the work force, is probably the most important element of the educational system. Many observers however, both professional educators and community members, are frustrated by the high attrition rate among highly effective teachers.
There are a number of reasons that teachers choose to leave the teaching profession. Low wages, lack of administrative support, disputes with parents and a challenging student population are all reasons that may push a teacher to pursue a different career. Yet retaining qualified and successful educators is the core of the school system and plays a major role in ensuring that America's students will be ready to move on to thrive in their personal, educational and work lives after they graduate from high school.
Recognizing this reality, the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) presents yearly awards to superior teachers, the "unsung heroes" of America's educational system who, through their work, vision and creativity are able to inspire their students and prepare them for their future integration into American society, whether that involves further studies or joining the workforce. Lowell Milken who created these awards believes that America must recognize its outstanding educators if it hopes to enthuse these teachers, and others like them, to remain in the classroom.
MFF created the Milken Educator Award (MEA) with the goal of inspiring excellence in the field of education. The Award is granted to multiple K-12 educators annually. Recipients are generally mid-career-level educators who have demonstrated creative teaching techniques that produce concrete results in the form of high achievement testing results.
The MEA is more than a pat on the back -- many of the award recipients receive a cash prize of $25,000 which they can then use at their discretion to promote their educational goals.
The award sends a message to students, families and society that good educators are valued.