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Leading American Education into the 21st Century: Secretary Paige Reflects on Four Years of Fundamental Reform

Recorded on December 14, 2004

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium

Four years ago, President Bush and Education Secretary Rod Paige offered a bold new vision for American education. They refused to allow students to languish in failing schools, demanding better results and calling for parental choice when schools do not progress. Since then, Secretary Paige has overseen the most significant change in federal education policy since 1965 and continued to champion parental choice in education. Unions opposed him, and the No Child Left Behind Act became a target of critics, yet Secretary Paige leaves his post having achieved greater opportunities for our nation's children. During his term, Paige was instrumental in the passage and implementation of the first federally funded voucher program, right here in the nation's Capitol. The small program in its first year gives a long ray of hope to thousands of children in struggling District schools and to others nationwide. Meanwhile, the No Child Left Behind Act is breaking American education out of the "soft bigotry of low expectations." Parents all over the country now have the opportunity to transfer their children out of consistently low-performing schools and even to receive federal assistance in acquiring tutoring services for their children. Please join us as Secretary Paige reflects on the accomplishments of the past four years and the challenges that lie ahead for federal education policy and parental choice in education.