Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from P-T » Paige, Rod(1933–) - Heads Houston’s School System, Chronology

Becomes U.S. Secretary of Education

paige act nclb bush

In December 2000, Texas governor and U.S. president-elect George W. Bush asked Paige to accept the position of U.S. secretary of education. Paige became acquainted with the Bush family during the 1970s when he was active in community groups helping the poorer neighborhoods in Houston. Paige volunteered for the George Bush presidential campaign of 1980 and became one of the delegates to the Republican national convention that summer. As governor, George W. Bush showed great regard for Paige and his reforms, frequently citing Houston as an exemplary urban school district to be emulated in other cities.

On January 24, 2001 Paige was sworn in as secretary of education. With the strong support of the Bush administration, Paige began his tenure by pushing the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. The NCLB Act focused on many of the same issues that Paige had successfully implemented in Houston: greater choices for parents and students attending low-performing schools, standardized testing, and greater accountability and local control for school administrators and teachers. Paige was successful in gaining bi-partisan support of the U.S. Congress for the bill. The act was signed on January 8, 2002.

As the year progressed, however, Paige was harshly criticized for his performance as secretary and for the problems arising from the NCLB Act. Funding was a critical issue for the bill, and circumstances following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks diverted key funds from the provisions of the NCLB Act to other programs related to homeland security. Also, some political analysts questioned Paige’s role in the development of the NCLB Act. White House education advisor Sandy Kress conceded in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that Paige was “a little bit on the periphery” because a large portion of the legislation had been drafted during the campaign before Paige took office.

The most significant criticism came from education organizations and state legislatures which opposed the strict testing and high achievement standards required by the act. The National Education Association expressed its disapproval of the law for its impairment of the education process through emphasis on standardized testing. Paige abruptly responded, calling the association a “terrorist organization,” but later apologizing for the remark. Lawmakers in twenty states introduced resolutions opposing all or part of the NCLB Act. Former “blue-ribbon” schools found themselves on the failing list under the new standards imposed by the act. Several states, including Vermont, threatened to refuse federal funds rather than comply with the new guidelines. The Christian Science Monitor quoted governor Howard Dean’s objection as “the one-size-fits-all unfunded mandate … What’s good in Houston is not necessarily good in Iowa or Minnesota or Vermont.”

In 2002, Paige went on a twenty-five city tour to gather support for the NCLB Act and encourage more active involvement of parents, teachers, principals, and administrators in the educational process. Paige started the tour in April 2002 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and finished in Bronx, New York in September of that year. At each stop on the tour he toured facilities, met with key politicians, and held town hall meetings with the various constituencies.

Throughout the remainder of his term as secretary, Paige was the administration’s public voice on the No Child Left Behind Act. On November 15, 2004, Paige announced his resignation, stating that “No Child Left Behind is indelibly launched” and that he was interested in pursuing personal interests at home.

In March 2005, Paige accepted a position as public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. to work on the “Academic Achievement Gap” project, including a book on the achievement gap and African American leadership. Paige also joined the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, an education think tank, as a trustee.

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or