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Back to August Ed Reporter
Education Reporter
NUMBER 187 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS AUGUST 2001

Education Secretary Rod Paige
Gives NEA a Reality Check

NEA Buttons
Secretary Rod Paige
LOS ANGELES, CA - Education Secretary Rod Paige gave the NEA Convention with a dose of reality on June 30 when he advised delegates that "public schools are no longer the only show in town." He explained that unsolved problems in public education are at least partially fueling "increasingly tough competition from private schools, parochial schools, charter schools, home schools, and even internet schools."

Nearly "70% of urban and rural 4th graders cannot read even at a basic level," he pointed out. "The achievement gap shows that our school system is failing precisely the children who need our help the most."

"It's tempting to pretend that public schools are exempt from the law of supply and demand," he stated, warning that such pretense would destroy the system.

"The competition is here to stay," he observed, "and it is growing. Embracing competition means not fearing it, but finding opportunities to use it to create the change to our system that has eluded us for so long."

Paige noted that, despite record spending for public education, reading and math scores have not improved. "For 35 years, we've tried to address our failing schools the easy way. We've just given them more money, without focusing on results."

The secretary also called for an overhaul of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). "Putting kids into special education simply because they can't read not only prevents them from reaching their full potential, it also robs children with real learning and physical disabilities of the federal dollars intended for them," he stated. "There are serious problems with how we deliver special education services to our students - problems that will not be remedied by amendments that simply throw more money at special ed."


 
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