CHARLESTON (AP) - Gaston Caperton is trying to save America's education system, one book at a time.
After two terms as governor of West Virginia and 13 years as president of the College Board, Caperton has had a front-row seat to the problems besetting America's education system - issues with school access, college affordability, recruiting high-quality teachers and combating low student expectations.
Everybody knows the big problems, said Caperton, but in his two new books, which will be released just months before he steps down from the College Board in October, he won't rehash what's wrong with U.S. education, but rather showcase what's right.
College Board President Gaston Caperton has two new books, which will be released just months before he steps down from his job in October.
"You do not succeed by dwelling on what's wrong," Caperton said in an interview at his home in Charleston's South Hills. "People have to know what are examples of excellence and what works. These books are basically stories of people who have gone into situations and have taken what was a bad situation and made it great."
Caperton's upcoming books, "The Caperton Years" and "The Achievable Dream," chart the College Board's transformation from a testing company to an education advocacy organization since Caperton took the helm in 1999. They also highlight on-the-ground school success stories he encountered in classrooms across America.
When Caperton came to the College Board in 1999, the non-profit education membership association had a limited mission and was known primarily as the entity that administered the Scholastic Achievement Test. The College Board was facing a bleak financial future when Caperton took over, even considering scaling back its SAT fee waivers to remain financially solvent.
GO TO SEE CAPERTON
Gaston Caperton, former governor of West Virginia, will be signing and giving away free copies ofhis two books at the state Culture Center in Charleston from 5-7 p.m. Friday.
Caperton decided to fix the College Board's bottom line - both in finances and core philosophy.
"I wasn't very interested in running a testing company because I don't do very well on tests," said Caperton, a lifelong dyslexic who struggled with standardized tests through elementary and high school. "Overall, the College Board has become a very positive influence in American education, interested in both education advocacy and research. We're not just a testing company."
In his two terms as governor from 1989 to 1997, Caperton, known as the "education governor," raised state teachers' salaries from 49th to 31st in the nation because "we thought there is nothing more important than for teachers to feel good about themselves."