Dr. Howard Fuller—the pioneer education reformer and one of the nation’s most distinguished advocates for providing children from low-income families with educational options—was honored with the John T. Walton Champions for School Choice Award last week at the second annual National Policy Summit of the American Federation for Children in Washington, D.C.
The award, named after committed philanthropist and generous education benefactor John T. Walton, was awarded by the Alliance for School Choice, and each year honors a prominent leader in the school choice movement for groundbreaking and dedicated work on behalf of America’s children.
Fuller, a former Superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools, co-founder of the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), charter school founder, and education dean, accepted the award from Christy Walton, the widow of John Walton. Fuller said that he was especially honored to receive an award named after John Walton, a longtime friend of Fuller, whom Fuller praised for his years of work in helping create and expand school choice programs for low-income children around the country.
“John Walton was one of the greatest people I have ever known,” Fuller said. “To say what this award means to me is really difficult to put into words.”
Following Walton’s 2005 death in a tragic plane crash, the Alliance created the award to honor his amazing personal and financial contributions to the cause of providing educational options for low-income children. Previous award winners have included leading philanthropists, school choice pioneers, policy and grassroots leaders.
“John Walton was one of the most passionate, committed, and stalwart advocates for children that our nation has ever known,” said Betsy DeVos, chairman of the Alliance for School Choice. “John devoted much of his life to bringing hope and equal educational opportunity to hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged children, and Howard’s passion and dedication to advancing this cause is what this award is all about.”
Fuller began his involvement in school choice in 1979, when he became the associate director of the Educational Opportunity Program at Marquette University. He spent the next decade in various roles as a public servant in Wisconsin before serving as superintendent of schools for the state’s largest city from 1991-1995.
He is the director and founder of the Institute for the Transformation of Learning at Marquette University, an organization that provides quality educational options for students from low-income families in Milwaukee and nationwide.