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Sat, 06.17.1933

Rod Paige, Educator born

Rod Paige

*Rod Paige was born on this date in 1933.  He is a Black educator and administrator.  Roderick Raynor Paige was born in Monticello, Mississippi, and is the son of public school educators.

He earned a bachelor's degree from Jackson State University. He earned a master's and Doctor of Education degrees in Physical Education from Indiana University Bloomington. He served in the United States Navy from 1955 to 1957.  After discharge, he taught health and physical education and coached at Hinds Agricultural High School and Hinds Community College in Mississippi until 1963. From 1964 to 1968, he coached football at Jackson State University.  Paige moved to Houston in the 1970s, settling in the Brentwood subdivision. He started a move to excise a dump from the edge of the community. The Texas Supreme Court eventually sided with the residents.

 From 1971 to 1975, he was the head football coach at Texas Southern University and their athletic director from 1971 to 1980.  He was a teacher at Texas Southern University from 1980 to 1984 and became the Dean of the College of Education in 1984, where he served until 1994.  He also established the university's Center for Excellence in Urban Education. He was a trustee and an officer of the Board of Education of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) from 1989 to 1994. Paige coauthored the board's 'A Declaration of Beliefs and Visions', a statement of purpose and goals for the school district that called for fundamental reform through decentralization, a focus on instruction, accountability at all levels, and the development of a core curriculum.

A Declaration of Beliefs and Visions was the catalyst that launched the ongoing, comprehensive restructuring of HISD. As an HISD trustee, Paige launched a municipal-style, accredited police department at HISD with police officers certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Education. Paige's board of education began that effort to provide better school safety. The HISD police department remains the only school district police department in the country to earn accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.  Paige became the superintendent of schools of the Houston Independent School District (HISD) in 1994. As superintendent, Paige created the Peer Examination, Evaluation, and Redesign (PEER) program, which solicits recommendations from business and community professionals for strengthening school support services and programs.

He started a charter school system with broad authority in decisions regarding staffing, textbooks, and materials. He saw that HISD paid teachers’ salaries competitively with other large Texas school districts. Paige made HISD the first school district in the state to institute performance contracts modeled on those in the private sector, whereby senior staff members' continued employment with HISD is based on their performance. He also introduced teacher incentive pay, which rewards teachers for raising test scores.  While he was superintendent, Paige led the district to enter into contracts with private schools to use them to teach some HISD students rather than placing those students into overcrowded public schools. Under Paige, HISD contracted with three private schools certified by the Texas Education Agency to teach HISD students so their parents did not have to bus them to schools across the city. 

He once referred to the National Education Association, the nation's most prominent teacher’s union, as a "terrorist organization."   Many touted the "Houston Miracle" accomplished under Paige, where student test scores rose under his leadership. However, some schools under-reported the number of dropouts during his watch.  Under Paige, the department earned "clean" audits from Ernst and Young for three consecutive years. Before 2001, the department had achieved only one clean audit in its history: by the Department's Office of Inspector General.  

Paige also proposed amendments to the regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to provide more flexibility for educators to establish single-sex classes and schools at the elementary and secondary levels.  He has served on review committees of the Texas Education Agency. Paige is a member of the NAACP National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.  He is a member of the Phi Beta Sigma fraternity. He also serves on the board of trustees for the American College of Education.  The Houston Independent School District renamed its James Bowie Elementary School after Paige to become Rod Paige Elementary School. His hometown of Monticello, Mississippi, was renamed Rod Paige Middle School.   

Paige served as the Secretary of Education from 2001 to 2005, the first Black citizen to do so. The No Child Left Behind law that set new accountability standards nationwide was developed with his help, and Paige's Department of Education implemented the law. The Bush White House's development of No Child Left Behind principles drew in part on the successes of the Houston Independent School District under Paige. 

Paige served as interim president of his alma mater, Jackson State University, from November 2016 to June 2017. The University of Houston presented Paige with an honorary doctoral degree in 2000.  Indiana University Bloomington awarded Paige an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2017.  

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