Gaston Caperton, a former two-term governor of West Virginia, is the eighth president of the College Board, a not-for-profit membership association founded in 1900 that consists of 5,000 of the nation's leading schools, colleges, and universities. Among its best-known programs are the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®) and the SAT®.
Since his appointment in 1999, Caperton has transformed the College Board into a resolutely mission-driven, values-oriented organization that takes bold steps to connect greater numbers of students to college success and opportunity while raising educational standards. In his successful effort to expand equity within programs that foster academic excellence, he has more than doubled the size of the College Board's staff, modernized its management structure, and established collegeboard.com, the nation's predominant comprehensive Web site serving nearly 4 million students a year as they plan their paths to college.
Question: How far have we fallen behind academically in the US?
Caperton: We used to always be sort of first, and now, as you look at developed nations, we’re… if you take the 27 top developed nations, we’re about 21st, so that’s not very good. Now, let me just sort of brainstorm with you a little bit why I think that’s true. I think one is that we desperately miss many of the teachers that were in the classroom because women had very little opportunities except to be in the classroom or to be a nurse. They weren’t in the professions as they are today. So, I think that that took a lot of the intellectual power out of the classroom and I know that, certainly that was true for me, when I was in school, most all of my teachers through high school were, certainly through junior high school, were women. I think, second of all, that there is the rising of the rest, and that means that everybody in the world looked at our country and said if you want to be the best, look at what the United States is doing and do it the way they do it, and they’ve done it quite well. I think the third thing is that with prosperity and success, maybe you don’t have quite the same amount of motivation that you have when you, you’re struggling and you’re following a leader and you’re trying to catch up with them. That would be kind of quickly what I would say about that.