[esd-dir] OSE- interview with Secretary Paige
Tonya.Cornelison at ODE-EX1.ODE.STATE.OR.US
Thu Nov 13 13:40:01 PST 2003
On behalf of:
Office of Special Education
Subject: interview with Secretary Paige
Attached is a transcript of an interview with Secretary Paige that took
place on CNN last week. The interview was about state education budgets and
NCLB. This is one of the few times that Secretary Paige directly addresses
special education. I know you may have heard all of this before, but I
thought you all might appreciate the Secretary's comments.
DOBBS: Tonight, in our series of special reports, "Our Failing Schools,"
cutbacks in school budgets are coming at the expense, of course, of
students. In Alabama, for example, more than two-thirds of the student there
fail to meet proficiency standards on achievement tests. The state's
response? Incredibly, it is cutting spending on education.
Lisa Sylvester is here now and has the report for us -- Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lou, unlike many other states, Alabama's
public schools get most of its funding from the state, which is in the midst
of an enormous budget crisis. And that means making some very tough
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some Alabama schools are so
pressed for money, the students don't even have their own textbooks, making
it difficult to assign homework.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is your independent reading time.
SYLVESTER: But the deep cuts don't end there; 3,600 teachers will be let go
next year. Tutorial problems that help students graduate on time are on the
chopping block. And a nationally renowned reading program that promises to
bring all students up to grade reading levels is being scaled back.
ED RICHARDSON, ALABAMA EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT: What we're going to see is
our test schools and our student achievement levels decline, dropout rate go
up, which I think would have a long-term impact on this state.
CHILDREN: Go. I'm.
SYLVESTER: Alabama schools had to slash $100 million from this year's budget
and are bracing for another $200 million reduction next year.
AMY RODGERS, TEACHER, HALCYON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: This reading program gives
children the confidence that they need to learn to read. Without this
program, unfortunately, many children would be left behind.
SYLVESTER: It's not just Alabama schools facing a severe budget crunch. The
American Federation of Teachers estimates that districts in at least 22
states have cut spending; 13 states have gone as far as to scale back
K-through-12 programs, the last thing anyone wants to touch. Without
learning the fundamentals, students may struggle the rest of their lives.
WILLIAM COX, STANDARD & POOR'S SCHOOL EVALUATION SERVICES: If you're not
investing today in good reading programs, that are very important
particularly for early childhood development in the early grades, then that
creates a long-term impact that you can't make up.
SYLVESTER: Many school districts have opted to cut electives as the least
painful option. Schools in Roseburg, Oregon, for instance offer Spanish, but
not French. But even cutting subjects like music, art and foreign languages
has a direct impact on the core subjects.
LEE PATERSON, ROSEBURG SUPERINTENDENT: The research does show that students
who take a second language do perform better than their peers who don't have
that opportunity. The same can be said of music.
SYLVESTER: The decision to save money by cutting school funding looks to be
shortsighted, because, ultimately, someone has to pay. And right now, it's
the students in the classroom.
SYLVESTER: Schools are having to get very creative to raise money. One
school district in Austin, Texas, for instance, wants to sell the naming
rights for its new stadium. Bidding starts at $2 million -- Lou.
DOBBS: And we wish them well.
Lisa, thanks. Incredible, what the state of Alabama faces, and those
students. Lisa Sylvester, thank you.
Well, this country spends $470 billion on education each and every year. My
guest tonight says that should be enough to ensure that every third grader
is able to read at a third grade level. The secretary of the Department of
Education, Rod Paige, also says parents should have the option to use
vouchers to send their children to better schools.
Secretary Paige is with us now.
Good to have you here.
ROD PAIGE, EDUCATION SECRETARY: It's good to be here.
DOBBS: Mr. Secretary, that's an enormous amount of money, $470 billion. Why
in the world can't our children, too many of them, why can't they read?
In fact, this nation last year spent more money on K-12 education than it
did on national defense. Is it too much to ask that a fourth grade child
read on a fourth grade level after this nation commits that much public
money? There are clearly other reasons why our students are not performing.
DOBBS: What are they, in your judgment?
PAIGE: Well, I think accountability is a good example of something we need
to be better at.
And that is why the president, in his No Child Left Behind act, has
accountability right up at forefront, accountability, stop making excuses
about some students who are having difficult situations at home, difficult
languages, but take responsibility for students and teach our students to
DOBBS: That's great. We know, first, critics say that it's simply not an
adequately funded, while noble goal. What is your reaction to those critics?
PAIGE: What's underfunded about $288 billion K-12 last year, federal and
PAIGE: That's a lot of money.
DOBBS: That's a lot of money, by any definition.
PAIGE: That's right.
DOBBS: Yet we just heard from Lisa Sylvester. She reported on the state of
Alabama with students who don't even have textbooks. Your department is
responsible for education at the federal level. But there are 50 states out
there also responsible, and all of those school districts. And the idea that
our public education, which was the -- in my judgment, the great treasure of
this company in our 200- year history, it is going -- I'll just say it --
it's going to hell in a handbasket.
PAIGE: Well, no, I'm not sure I would agree with that. I know, when
President Bush took office in 2000 in January, we found that our education
system was not meeting, despite the fact that we had many wonderful
educators and many wonderful teachers and principals and some great schools,
primarily, our system was not operating effectively. But now that the
president has proposed and the Congress has enacted the No Child Left Behind
Act, I think there are many positives things that we can say about what's
going on in our education.
DOBBS: Oh, I'm not arguing, Mr. Secretary, that there aren't many positives
in that educational system. But what I'm saying is that, when 36 percent of
our fourth graders can't read at a fourth grade level, when we have students
who can't find a textbook in the state of Alabama -- and it's not the only
state in which that's occurring -- we've got a horrible problem.
DOBBS: And that, to me, is inexcusable.
PAIGE: It is. And we do have a horrible problem.
And that is why we as a nation must embrace the vision of the president that
every child learn. And the No Child Left Behind Act is the framework around
which we can improve this terrible situation that you're speaking of.
DOBBS: The fact is, our special-education programs, which are laudable and
notable and remarkable, in point of fact, many teachers blame the inability
to deal effectively with special-ed students for slowing down other students
and diverting much needed money and time.
How do we deal with that issue, because no one wants to talk about it, it
PAIGE: Well, let's talk about it.
The No Child Left Behind idea means no child left behind. A child who has
special education needs is just like a child that does not have special
education needs. Every child should get our best effort. So if a child has
special needs, we need to meet that child's need just like we do others. So
we want every single child to learn.
DOBBS: Every child to learn?
PAIGE: That's right.
DOBBS: The definition of special ed needs -- is it truly, while noble and
aspirational -- is it realistic when we're punishing many students because
of that diversion of funding?
PAIGE: Well, I think what we need to do...
DOBBS: And time?
PAIGE: Well, what we need to make sure that we're adequately addressing
needs of all students, no matter what they are.
The Special Education Act i-d-e-a is being is looked at now -- it's been --
to be reauthorized, and look at some of the issues in that we need to
improve in that particular act. But we cannot leave special ed children
DOBBS: And let's -- let's talk also about minorities in this country. Still,
the gap in testing in excess of 30 percent, whether black or Hispanic,
behind white students.
PAIGE: Absolutely. And that is what we're working about -- working now. That
is why it's so important that we embrace the No Child Left Behind Act and
continue to work on the framework that it provides for us.
DOBBS: Mr. Secretary, I'll buy into the No Child Left Behind. But what I
can't buy into is why through -- and not to put this on the Bush
administration, the Clinton administration, the administrations before it,
the problems that are deep-seeded in the educational system. I keep asking
myself and let me ask you, where in the world is the National Education
Association? Where is the teachers' association? Where is the PTA? Everyone
goes on as if we can just simply surrender our future, not worry about the
fact students are not being taught mathematics and natural sciences. How
frustrated must you be?
PAIGE: Oh, I think if I had the luxury to be frustrated, I could be very
frustrated. But what I'm going to do is work hard to make sure that we get
accountability in schools, that parents get choices, that we're using the
right pedagogy, and that we have local options and flexibility.
This is what we're going to do on a No Child Left Behind Act. And that is
going to be the framework around which we're going to improve schools. But
we must improve schools in a way that every single child has an opportunity
DOBBS: Mr. Secretary, we thanks -- we thank you very much, as always, for
being here. It's -- it is one of the toughest jobs in Washington, if not the
toughest, in point of fact, because you're so dependent on so many other
people, including communities and the parents of the students who you're
trying to serve.
PAIGE: That's right. And that's why the nation must embrace this and help us
make sure that we create a system in America where every single child has an
opportunity to learn. That's what the president wants. That's what I want as
DOBBS: I think that's what we all want.
PAIGE: Thank you.
DOBBS: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much.
PAIGE: Thank you.
DOBBS: Secretary Rod Paige.
PAIGE: Thank you.
DOBBS: Coming up next, your government at work. The deficit, soaring. But
tens of thousands of government officials are flying high, and we do mean
flying in high style. You're paying for it. That story and the market next.
Deputy Executive Director
(703) 519-3800, ext. 334
nreder at nasdse.org
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