MIKE F. EASLEY was born in Nash County, North Carolina in 1950. The second of seven children, he was raised on a tobacco farm. Easley attended the University of North Carolina and received a bachelor's degree in political science with honors. In 1975, he graduated cum laude from North Carolina Central University School of Law, where he served as managing editor of the law review. In 1982, Easley was elected district attorney. One of the state's youngest district attorneys ever, he was named among USA Today’s top "drug busters."
Elected state attorney general in 1992 and re-elected in 1996, Easley worked to remove the state's prison cap, helped create an environmental crimes task force, and created a citizens’ rights division to combat hate crimes, child abuse, and elder abuse. He spearheaded efforts to reach the historic national tobacco settlement and achieved statewide expansion of the Child Victims Assistance Project statewide, which he had begun in the southeast while serving as district attorney.
Easley was elected governor in November 2000 and re-elected in 2004. He has restored fiscal discipline to the state's finances while also increasing investments in education and infrastructure, key components to recruiting and retaining high quality jobs and industry for the state. Since 2001, Easley's use of smart, targeted, performance-based initiatives has generated more than 25,000 new jobs and $4 billion in investment for the state, earning North Carolina the title “State of the Year” and No. 1 “Comeback Kid” from Southern Business and Development Magazine in 2005.
Despite budget challenges, Governor Easley has reduced class size in grades K-3, implemented the first statewide pre-kindergarten program for at-risk children, and introduced measures that have 81 percent of North Carolina’s students performing at or above grade level on ABC tests. Easley also launched an effort to reform the state's high schools. As part of the governor’s New Schools Project, he has opened small, economic development-themed high schools across the state focusing on growing economies, health care, and biotechnology. Easley also created the nation’s first Center for 21st Century Skills to redesign high school curriculum and better prepare students for college and work in the 21st century.more » « less