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Former Secretary of Education visits ND

John-Paul Witt | Monday, February 12, 2007

Rod Paige, the former Secretary of Education under President George W. Bush charged with implementing the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, will appear tonight as the keynote speaker in the campus-wide Black History Month celebration.

In his address, Paige will focus on his involvement in No Child Left Behind, connecting it to the history of racial inequality in the country’s educational system, according to Multicultural Affairs Committee (MAC) chair Destinee DeLemos.

“Dr. Paige embodies values important to Notre Dame,” DeLemos said. “His intention in implementing No Child Left Behind was to cure education inequality in this country.”

Education became a central issue during the Bush administration, as Bush sought to implement national standardized testing to measure students’ performance.

“George W. Bush called education ‘the civil rights issue of our time.’ Because of this, we felt Dr. Paige was a perfect choice for a keynote speaker,” DeLemos said. “And also because Condoleezza Rice is impossible to book during Black History Month.”

Senior Broderick Henry, also a member of MAC, said choosing Paige was an easy decision for MAC.

“[Paige] carries an image of African-Americans that isn’t associated with arts or entertainment,” Henry said. “Of all the speakers we could have chosen from, we felt he could best contribute to a dialogue on campus.”

Paige’s two-year tenure at the Department of Education was not without controversy, as No Child Left Behind became an unpopular program because of its strict requirements at the state level, according to Henry.

“We thought it would be interesting to hear [Paige’s] side of the debate, and why he supported No Child Left Behind,” Henry said.

Paige will speak at 7:30 p.m. in Room 101 of DeBartolo Hall.