Educators Praise Paige’s Record on Behalf of Urban Schools
President-elect George W. Bush nominated earlier this month Houston School Superintendent Roderick R. Paige to be education secretary.
The choice of Paige, 67, who will be the first African American education secretary if confirmed, drew support from educators and specialists who have watched him raise test scores and improve performance in Houston’s school system.
“He brings a lot to the table,” Leonard Haynes, who served as assistant secretary for post-secondary education from 1989 to 1991, told Black Issues. “That he is a graduate of an HBCU(historically Black college and university) is a tremendous accomplishment and a positive thing for all minority colleges.”
Paige was raised in Mississippi, the son of a librarian and a school principal. After attending segregated schools in Mississippi, Paige graduated from Jackson State University in 1955 and spent eight years as head football coach at Utica Junior College before earning a master’s and a doctorate from Indiana University. Paige returned to Jackson State as head coach from 1962 to 1969, then coached and taught at Texas Southern University, rising to dean of the College of Education before winning a spot on Houston’s school board.
In 1994, the board appointed him superintendent, a move that reportedly angered Hispanics who considered themselves underrepresented. Once in charge, Paige focused on school safety as a way to reassure parents and children alike. He imported college instructors to teach math to teachers. He added 6,000 troubled students to testing rolls in 1998, although they were eligible to be excluded.
Paige has been a member of the Houston Job Training Partnership Council, the State Board of Education High School Education Task Force, the Community Advisory Board of Texas Commerce Bank, the NAACP and the Board of Directors of the Texas Business and Education Coalition. He currently serves as secretary-treasurer for the Council of the Great City Schools, a national organization that named him outstanding urban educator in 1999.
© Copyright 2005 by DiverseEducation.com