Mitt Romney will outline his education policy in a speech today, and as part of his focus on the issue, the Republican presidential hopeful announced yesterday that Rod Paige will serve as his “special advisor” on education.
The most obvious observation is that Paige was the Bush/Cheney Secretary of Education, offering yet another connection between the failed former Republican administration and Team Romney.
The more important angle, though, is why Romney is getting policy advice from the worst Education Secretary anyone’s ever seen. Indeed, the only reason Paige was elevated to the cabinet post was the so-called “miracle” he pulled off as superintendent of Houston’s schools – a miracle that turned out to be a mirage when we learned local officials cooked the books.
[A]n examination of the performance of students in Houston by The New York Times raises serious doubts about the magnitude of those gains. Scores on a national exam that Houston students took alongside the Texas exam from 1999 to 2002 showed much smaller gains and falling scores in high school reading.
Compared with the rest of the country, Houston’s gains on the national exam, the Stanford Achievement Test, were modest. The improvements in middle and elementary school were a fraction of those depicted by the Texas…. [T]he Texas Education Agency found rampant undercounting of school dropouts. Houston school officials have also been accused of overstating how many high school graduates were college bound and of failing to report violent crimes in schools to state authorities.
Once in Washington, Paige helped oversee Bush’s “Reading First” program, which “improperly encouraged” state and local education school officials to spend billions in federal grant money on products offered by favored companies, which happened to be Bush/Cheney donors.
So, here’s a question for the Romney campaign: why on earth is Rod Paige the candidate’s new “special advisor” on education policy?