Arlington, Va. — Michael Flanagan, superintendent of the Michigan Department of Education and chair of the state board of education, is being awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). The national award is given annually to a NASBE member in recognition of outstanding service to public education.

“The greatest innovations in public education these days come from the states, and most effectively from states that have strong state boards and state chiefs who work in tandem with those boards,” said NASBE Executive Director Kristen Amundson. “The bond of trust and a common goal between a Michael Flanagan and the Michigan State Board clearly run deep given the board’s nomination of Mike, the first time a state superintendent has received this award. We are proud to recognize him today for his diligent and continued leadership in improving public education for all of Michigan’s children.”

“I want to thank NASBE and its members for all they do for children across this nation and their dedication to public education,” Flanagan said. “I am so honored to be the first state schools chief to receive this prestigious award. Having worked with school boards and educators at many levels over the years, it is most satisfying that we, together, have helped improve the lives of children with a higher standard of education and a higher standard of living.”

Since the state board appointed Flanagan state superintendent in 2005, he spearheaded the push for more rigorous high school graduation requirements—the Michigan Merit Curriculum—through their adoption by the state board and the legislature.

In addition, as state chief he has led reforms at the state Education Department to develop and begin implementing a three-tiered teaching licensure system so teachers can advance in their careers without having to leave the classroom to become administrators. Flanagan has also improved the ratings system for teacher preparation programs and designed a system linking K-12 student performance back to those programs.

The award is being presented July 30 at NASBE’s national conference in Arlington, VA.


The National Association of State Boards of Education represents America’s state and territorial boards of education. NASBE exists to strengthen State Boards as the preeminent educational policymaking bodies for citizens and students. For more, visit