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Paige to resign as education secretary.

Education Secretary Rod Paige will resign his Cabinet position. Paige, 71, came to prominence as an award-winning superintendent in Houston before becoming secretary in a time of huge change in federal education policy. An outspoken defender of demanding more from schools, he has been the public face behind No Child Left Behind, the law at the center of Bush's domestic agenda.

Paige has presided over the biggest federal shakeup to education in a generation, a law demanding that schools show improvement among all students, regardless of race or wealth. Paige, who grew up in segregated Mississippi, puts No Child Left Behind in the category of Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case that ended separating schools by race.

Yet Paige has had rocky moments, with none more glaring than when he called the National Education Association a "terrorist organization" in a private meeting with governors.

He apologized but maintained that the NEA, the nation's largest teachers union, uses "obstructionist scare tactics" in opposing the law. The union called for his resignation.

Sanay Kress, a former senior education adviser to Bush, said that Paige "has spoken with great moral authority about the goals of No Child Left Behind. He feels it personally. He brought a history, he brought experience, and I think he brought a great commitment to the cause."

From college dean and school superintendent to the nation's education chief. Paige has built a career on the belief that education equalizes opportunity. As his tenure unfolded, he chose increasingly forceful terms in defending Bush's agenda.

He corn pared critics of the administration's education overhaul to those who opposed school desegregation 50 years ago, saying both will fall on the wrong side of history.

And Paige said private-school vouchers in the District of Columbia amount to nothing short of "emancipation" for hundreds of poor and minority students, allowing them to "throw off the chains of a school system that has not served them well."

"I think he's a better man than they even know," said William Bennett, who served as education secretary under President Reagan. "He's an in-the-trenches reformer."--Associated Press
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Title Annotation:Inside the law: analyzing, debating and explaining no child left behind; Rod Paige
Author:Pascopella, Angela
Publication:District Administration
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2004
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