A Lovett College freshman has partnered with his grandfather, longtime CBS Evening News anchor and journalist Dan Rather, to create the Rather Prize, a $10,000 reward for the best idea to improve education in the state of Texas.
The freshman, Martin Rather, said the creation of this project stems equally from himself and his grandfather. Both hope to improve education in Texas, but Martin said he wants the creation of the prize to serve as a legacy project for his grandfather, who spent all of his educational years in the Texas public education system, attending school in the Houston Heights neighborhood and then later at Sam Houston State University.
“[My grandfather] always says he is Texas-born and Texas-bred, and when he dies he’ll be Texas-dead,” Martin Rather said. “He wanted to find a way to give back [to Texas] while he can.”
Rather said he, his grandfather, and partners, which include Rice’s Center for Civic Leadership, nonprofit organization Greenlights and South by Southwest, are looking for ideas from the local level.
“We are looking for bottom-up ideas, from the people who are actually inthe classroom,” Rather said. “Students, teachers, administrators — anyone who has learned or worked in Texas education [is welcome].”
The process of selecting a winner begins with a standardized rubric in which a certain number of points will be assigned for various categories such as originality and practicality, according to Rather.
“The idea needs to be something that can be scaled,” Rather said. “We would love to see higher pay for teachers, but we are looking for something that is not as broad-based.”
According to Rather, the process will begin at Rice. Students and community volunteers can vote on their favorite ideas. From the top-voted ideas, 10 finalists will be named by an advisory board.
“We are hoping to expand the prize pool [in the future] by not only offering a prize to the winner, but to the 10 finalists as well,” Rather said.
Rather said he and his grandfather will be speaking at the Texas Association of School Boards and the Texas Association of School Administrators annual joint conference on Oct. 3.
“We want to reach smaller school districts,” Rather said. “If we can talk to these 2,000 or so local school boards from all across the state, then hopefully those administrators will bring the idea of the Rather prize back to their school districts.”
This is the first year the Rather Prize is being offered, but Rather said he hopes it will become annual.
“We have gotten off to a good start,” Rather said. “We have gotten the word out. Now that we have built something, I sincerely hope we can move it forward [in years to come].”
Those interested may submit ideas for the Rather Prize online at http://www.ratherprize.org/home.html, Rather said.
According to Rather, the winner of the Rather Prize will be announced February 2016 and will have the opportunity to present their idea at the South by Southwest conference in Austin.