"The only people who develop human potential and character as a calling are educators. This puts the men and women who choose to be teachers and principals in a position of unique power to help secure our children's future." -NIET Chairman and TAP Founder Lowell Milken
Lowell Milken's lifelong commitment to education reform has produced some of the country's most innovative means to elevate the teaching profession, including TAP™: The System for Teacher and Student Advancement. Introduced in 1999, TAP was created by Lowell Milken to significantly improve teacher recruitment, retention, motivation, practices and performance. TAP's comprehensive school reform system provides teachers and administrators with powerful opportunities to pursue multiple career paths, receive ongoing daily-applied professional growth, participate in instructionally focused accountability and earn additional compensation and bonuses based on multiple measures of performance. This multi-tiered formula has resulted in higher levels of achievement among students and schools where TAP is implemented in comparison to their respective non-TAP counterparts.
Based on TAP's rapid growth, strong results and high demand, Lowell launched the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) in Los Angeles in 2005 as an independent public charity to support and manage the TAP system nationally and to foster powerful teacher quality initiatives through the NIET Best Practices Center. NIET forges partnerships with states, districts and other governmental entities to ensure TAP's effectiveness and sustainability in a diverse set of urban, rural and suburban schools across America.
The NIET Best Practices Center (BPC) provides innovative services, support and solutions to schools, districts and states to improve educator effectiveness. Based on more than ten years of experience in teacher quality initiatives, the BPC works with states, districts and schools to design powerful systems for teacher evaluation, job-embedded professional development, career advancement opportunities, performance-based compensation, and teacher leadership in schools. Together, NIET's Best Practices Center and TAP are improving the educational experience for more than 200,000 teachers and 2.5 million students.
Since 1982, Lowell has also chaired the Milken Family Foundation, which he co-founded to lead advances in education and medical research. Among the Foundation's hallmark initiatives, Lowell created the Milken Educator Awards to celebrate, elevate and activate exemplary teachers and principals. Guided by the philosophy that the most talented in the profession should be honored and emulated—as they are in film, sports and many other fields—the Awards have surprised more than more than 2,600 educators with individual, unrestricted $25,000 rewards, presented during all-school ceremonies filled with cheering students, colleagues, distinguished officials and media. Recipients, who become part of the National Milken Educator Network, are selected in early to mid-career for what they have achieved—and for the promise of what they will accomplish in the future.
Named the "Oscars of Teaching" by Teacher magazine, the Milken Educator Award has become a national symbol of the crucial role that outstanding educators play in strengthening the skills, knowledge and experiences of the next generation of Americans and in encouraging talented young people to consider teaching as a career.
Another organization creating exceptional learning opportunities for educators, students and the community at large is the Lowell Milken Center. Established by Lowell in 2007 in collaboration with 1992 Kansas Milken Educator Norman Conard, the Center discovers, develops and communicates the stories of unsung heroes who have made a profound and positive difference on the course of history. Through student-driven, project-based learning, communities learn that each person—regardless of age or circumstances—has the responsibility and the power to take actions that "repair the world" by improving the lives of others. The Lowell Milken Center's inspiring projects have reached more than 800,000 students and 6,350 schools in all 50 states and 26 countries.
Further education efforts championed by Lowell include High Tech Los Angeles, a public charter school that engages a diverse student body with a rigorous curriculum rich in technology and complemented by real-world internships. Officially dedicated in 2004, High Tech Los Angeles achieved California Distinguished School status in record time. In 2013, the USC School Performance Dashboard ranked it California's top-performing charter high school.
In 2011, UCLA School of Law established the Lowell Milken Institute for Business Law and Policy to extend greater opportunities to students, faculty, young law practitioners and alumni. Building on the school's already outstanding programs, the the Institute provides expanded studies on business law and policy, clinical experience and additional research opportunities for faculty, along with faculty fellowships, student scholarships and awards. The knowledge, skills and experience available through the Lowell Milken Institute will help ensure that UCLA law students are prepared to assume leadership roles in the practice of law as well as in business, government and philanthropy.
By creating strong and vibrant communities in philanthropy and business, Lowell actively promotes excellence in education for a global economy. He is co-founder of Knowledge Universe Education, the worldwide leader in early childhood education; and chairman of London-based Heron International, a European force in property investment and development. Lowell's accomplishments have been acknowledged with honors from the National Association of State Boards of Education, the Horace Mann League, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, Hebrew Union College and UCLA School of Law.
Lowell Milken's education reform efforts draw inspiration from the talented teachers he was privileged to have in the California public school system, which he attended from elementary through graduate school. At UC Berkeley, he graduated Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude, receiving the School of Business Administration's Most Outstanding Student Award. He received his law degree from UCLA, where he was awarded the academic honors of Order of the Coif and served on the UCLA Law Review.