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A Paige In History

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Coverage of Candidate Romney’s education plan received varying reviews. His agenda aside, newspapers also reported that Romney appointed an advisory team which included former Education Secretary Rod Paige. Yet rather than tell the readers something about Paige’s past accomplishments, the only thing numerous newspapers felt worthy to use as a descriptor is that Paige once called the NEA a “terrorist organization.”

Let’s start with the fact that he did so because during his tenure iN Washington, the NEA held hostage any legislator who didn’t agree with their viewpoints. This is not new for the leading labor union in the country, which politicians fear as they run for office. But those facts aside, the Post reported that “Romney’s Education Policy Advisory Committee includes several prominent opponents of teacher’s unions, including Paige, who as secretary of education in 2004 labeled the National Education Association a “terrorist organization.” No context. Zip. The AP story from which the Post clearly drew had the same.

Paige’s career as Houston TX superintendent is well regarded to this day, as is his tenure as the leader of a dramatic, bi-partisan reform plan that took shape amidst a 9/11 world. He’s an author, a contributor to numerous education efforts and a man worthy of much more than one phrase to describe his tenure.

All corners of the political spectrum should call on the press, bloggers included, to save the drama for the Style section and focus on the big ideas espoused by both candidates that will shape the outcomes in every classroom for every school-age student nationwide.

–Jeanne Allen, Founder and President of the Center for Education Reform