Atmosphere

Politician: Roy Romer

In April, former Governor Roy Romer took the helm of "Ed in '08," a $60 million campaign to make education reform a key issue in the 2008 presidential election. The Holly, Colorado, native served three terms as the governor of Colorado before going on to be the superintendent of the Los Angeles school district. Here, Romer shares his wisdom on the income gap, politicians' egos, and the profitability of skinning cows.

August 2007
  • The economy is changing. Right now, education and knowledge drive economic activity so much more than ever before.
  • Many families are being squeezed out of their middle-class homes because the jobs they knew are disappearing. That's the Detroit model. Now they are in a world where they've got to have a higher level of understanding and skill. They've got to have algebra.
  • If we do not close this gap of inequality in this country, I don't think you're going to have as stable of a democracy as we have.
  • Education is the key policy to making America a better place.
  • Teaching is the heart of the system.
  • As a nation, we are falling behind the rest of the world on education. We have to make a very urgent and vigorous effort to catch up.
  • The hardest job I ever had was running the L.A. school system. That's more difficult than being governor.
  • It's a privilege to be a governor of a state. I was there 12 years, and I had a joyous time doing that. It was a job that had a lot of tough spots in it, but I enjoyed it.
  • The most satisfying activity of my life has been my family relationships.
  • I like Colorado because it is without pretension. You get on both coasts and you get into a group of people who are wonderful people, but many of them are trying to become something they are not yet.
  • I love to solve problems.
  • I read at least a book a week, a lot of history. I like to know what the world was before I came, who was in it, what happened, and what can I learn from it.
  • I think the Achilles heel of most politicians is their ego. It's very important to always realize that it should always be about the people you serve, not about you.
  • Mother Teresa was the greatest demonstration of a courageous woman.
  • Coming out of rural Colorado, it was very easy to arrive as an adult with a prejudicial point of view about homosexuality. And I had one, and I've learned to overcome it by simply getting to know individuals within the community, who are some of the finest people I know.
  • It was one of the growing experiences for me as governor to learn about the fact that we truly are all equal and should be treated that way.
  • In a small town, you learn a whole lot outside of school. I learned to fly an airplane before I got out of high school, because there was a crop duster down there and I got interested in aircraft. I learned to run a small grain elevator. I did everything a person on the ranch would do.
  • When you live in the country, you do what you got to do to make a go of it.
  • My first job was milking cows. I'm a very good milker, I've got to tell you.
  • The other thing I learned very early in life was how to skin a cow. Hides were very valuable, and when somebody's cow would die, I'd go over and I would skin it and we would split the profit.
  • Excuse me, my aide is sitting here poking me in the ribs saying, "Stop this conversation!"