Rod Paige

Rod Paige
7th United States Secretary of Education
In office
January 20, 2001  January 20, 2005
President George W. Bush
Preceded by Richard Riley
Succeeded by Margaret Spellings
Personal details
Born (1933-06-17) June 17, 1933
Monticello, Mississippi, U.S.
Political party Republican
Alma mater Jackson State University
Indiana University, Bloomington

Roderick Raynor "Rod" Paige (born June 17, 1933) served as the 7th United States Secretary of Education from 2001 to 2005. Paige, who grew up in Mississippi, moved from classroom teacher to college dean and school superintendent to be the first African American to serve as the nation's education chief.

Paige was sitting with George W. Bush at the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, when Bush received the news that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center in the September 11, 2001 attacks.

On November 15, 2004, Paige announced his resignation after overseeing the President's education agenda for four years. White House domestic policy adviser Margaret Spellings was nominated as his successor. The U.S. Senate confirmed her on January 20, 2005 after Bush's inauguration for a second term.

Early life and education

Born in Monticello, Mississippi, Paige is the son of public school educators. He earned a bachelor's degree from Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi and a Master's degree and a Doctor of Physical Education degree from Indiana University Bloomington. He also holds an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Houston, which was presented to him in 2000.


Paige served in the United States Navy from 1955 to 1957. Paige then taught health and physical education and coached at Hinds Agricultural High School and Hinds Community College in Mississippi from 1957 to 1963. From 1964 to 1968, Paige served as head football coach at Jackson State University, compiling a record of 25 wins, 19 losses and 2 ties. Most notably, he recruited and coached Lem Barney who went on to a successful career with the Detroit Lions and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.[1] From 1971 to 1975, Paige served as head football coach at Texas Southern University, and served as the university's athletic director from 1971 to 1980.

Paige first moved to Houston in the 1970s and settled in the Brentwood subdivision. He started a move to excise a dump from the edge of the community. The Texas Supreme Court eventually sided with the residents.[2]

Paige was a teacher at Texas Southern University from 1980 to 1984 and became the Dean of the College of Education in 1984, where he served until 1994. Paige also established the university's Center for Excellence in Urban Education, a research facility that concentrates on issues related to instruction and management in urban school systems.

As a trustee and an officer of the Board of Education of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) from 1989 to 1994, Paige coauthored the board's 'A Declaration of Beliefs and Visions', a statement of purpose and goals for the school district that called for fundamental reform through decentralization, a focus on instruction, accountability at all levels, and development of a core curriculum. A Declaration of Beliefs and Visions was the catalyst that launched the ongoing, comprehensive restructuring of HISD. As an HISD trustee, Paige launched a municipal-style, accredited police department at HISD with police officers certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education. Paige’s board of education began that effort to provide better school safety, and the HISD police department remains the only school district police department in the country to earn accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.[3]

Paige became the superintendent of schools of HISD in 1994. As superintendent, Paige created the Peer Examination, Evaluation, and Redesign (PEER) program, which solicits recommendations from business and community professionals for strengthening school support services and programs. He started a system of charter schools that have broad authority in decisions regarding staffing, textbooks, and materials. He saw to it that HISD paid teachers salaries competitive with those offered by other large Texas school districts. Paige made HISD the first school district in the state to institute performance contracts modeled on those in the private sector, whereby senior staff members' continued employment with HISD is based on their performance. He also introduced teacher incentive pay, which rewards teachers for raising test scores.

While he was superintendent, Paige led the district to enter into contracts with private schools to use them to teach some HISD students rather than placing those students into overcrowded public schools. Under Paige HISD contracted with three private schools that were certified by the Texas Education Agency to teach HISD students so their parents didn’t have to bus them to schools across the city.

Many touted the "Houston Miracle" accomplished under Paige where student test scores rose under his leadership. However, some schools underreported the number of drop-outs during his watch.[4]

Paige served as the United States Secretary of Education from 2001 to 2005 under President George W. Bush. The No Child Left Behind law that set new accountability standards nationwide was developed with Paige’s help, and it was Paige’s Department of Education that implemented the law. The Bush White House’s development of the principles of No Child Left Behind drew in part on the successes of the Houston Independent School District under Paige.

Under Paige, the department earned “clean” audits from Ernst and Young for three consecutive years. Prior to 2001, the department had achieved only one clean audit in its history, and that audit was by the Department's Office of Inspector General.[5]

Paige proposed amendments to the regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to provide more flexibility for educators to establish single-sex classes and schools at the elementary and secondary levels.[6][7][8]

Paige once referred to the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, as a "terrorist organization."[9]

Other activities

Paige has served on review committees of the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education's Task Force on High School Education, and he has chaired the Youth Employment Issues Subcommittee of the National Commission for Employment Policy of the U.S. Department of Labor. Paige is a member of the NAACP National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He is a former member of the Houston Job Training Partnership Council, the Community Advisory Board of Texas Commerce Bank, the American Leadership Forum, and the board of directors of the Texas Business and Education Coalition. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.


Houston ISD renamed campus of James Bowie Elementary School after Paige, naming it Rod Paige Elementary School. His hometown of Monticello, Mississippi renamed its middle School Rod Paige Middle School.[10]

See also


  1. Hall, Drew. "Detroit Lions Hall of Famer Lem Barney's NFL Debut" Examiner (May 6, 2013)
  2. Frey, Jennifer. "Bush's School Master." The Washington Post. March 8, 2001. C01 Style. Retrieved on October 26, 2011.
  3. "Seven New Police Sergeants Sworn in at HISD". Houston Independent School District. July 11, 2011. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  4. See "The 'Texas Miracle'" from CBS News.
  5. "Paige Resigns, Bush Appoints New Education Secretary" (PDF). 3 (19). The Achiever. December 15, 2004. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  6. "Secretary Paige Announces Intent to Provide More Flexibility Regarding Single-Sex Classes and Schools". May 8, 2002. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  7. "Guidelines regarding Single Sex Classes and Schools". Office for Civil Rights. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  8. "Department to Provide More Educational Options for Parents". March 3, 2004. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
  9. "Education chief calls union 'terrorist' group". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. February 24, 2004. Retrieved October 31, 2011.
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Riley
United States Secretary of Education
Succeeded by
Margaret Spellings
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