Jack McConnell evoked the ghosts of congresses past - Margaret Thatcher and Michael Forsyth - to highlight the benefits to education arising from the Scottish Parliament.
The two Tory politicians had worked against the grain of education values and aspirations to benefit the few against the interests of the many, the Education Minister, said.
Years of neglect and under-investment had left "a legacy of buildings and equipment in need of modernisation or replacement" and brought mistrust, low morale and a feeling that what went on in schools was neither valued nor recognised.
The Parliament had delvered an education Act that emphasised a truly inclusive system, offering opportunity for all and putting classroom teaching at the centre of education.
Mr McConnell said the post-McCrone agreement "marks a watershed in the years of instability and disruption". It had ended the "feast or famine approach to teachers' pay" and brought the prospect of genuine stability in schools.
Outlining the "sustained investment" programme begun through the Parliament, Mr McConnell announced that a further pound;40 million from the Excellence Fund will be targeted at new technology in schools over three years.