John Winn Miller

Publisher, The Concord Monitor

Concord, NH

[NH-E 101]

When I was a reporter in Kentucky, the State Supreme Court declared the education system unconstitutional.

And my newspaper – The Lexington Herald-Leader under John Carroll, who went on to The Baltimore Sun and The LA Times – did a series of stories. We dedicated 10 reporters for six months, traveling throughout the poorer parts of Kentucky, looking at – not the obvious stories about how bad education was, but the not so obvious stories about why it was. And who was really cheating the children of Kentucky by the way they were financing education by the special favors – that property tax assessors were doing for very wealthy people.

And we came up with a series of stories that literally changed thousands of lives in Kentucky. Because, as a result – partially, not entirely – of what we did, the Legislature passed a massive tax increase – the largest tax increase in the state’s history. They passed education reform that dramatically restructured the way funding was done for education in Kentucky that held teachers and schools accountable for the first time. And that balanced the poor counties in Eastern Kentucky, in particular, with the wealthier counties in the central part of the state.

And the reaction we got from readers was astounding – that we made a difference in their lives. We made a difference in their children’s lives. And from legislators to school kids, we heard. And that was when we truly understood that we made a difference, and a difference that will last a long, long time.