AUGUSTA – Stephen Bowen was sworn in this afternoon as the 27th commissioner overseeing the Maine Department of Education.

“I have asked Steve Bowen to be our commissioner of education because we want a teacher leading our efforts to put students first,” Republican Gov. Paul LePage said in swearing in Bowen, who was endorsed by a 25-10 vote of the Maine Senate.

“Our graduating seniors need to be ready for a job in a good-paying trade or prepared for college-level work,” LePage continued. “And we have to inspire our at-risk kids before they make the decision to give up and drop out of school. It is a big job and we are going to get Steve the resources and flexibility he needs to get it done.”

Bowen addressed the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee earlier this week.

“Teachers, school administrators and superintendents are working harder than ever, spending more time poring over data, developing customized learning plans for more and more kids, and testing, testing, and testing some more. Yet we are simply not moving the needle,” Bowen said. “Too many of our kids drop out of school, and too many of the kids that do graduate are not prepared for college and careers. We need to put a plan in place that drives education policy in a specific direction and focuses our state’s resources where they will have the biggest impact on kids.”

Most recently, Bowen directed the Center for Education Excellence at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative public policy group. Before that, he taught social studies for 10 years in middle and high schools in Fairfax County, Va., then at Camden-Rockport Middle School.

In 2002, he was elected to the first of two terms as a state representative for Camden and Rockport. Bowen has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Drew University and a master’s degree in education from George Mason University.