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It's a boy

While the official purpose of the annual State of American Education address is to highlight the nation’s education achievements, it makes a nifty venue for a birth announcement as well.

And Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley couldn’t resist using last month’s speech—one of his highest-profile events—to announce the arrival of his 11th grandchild.

The proud grandfather held up a photo of little William Daniel Riley, born on Feb. 19, three days before the Feb. 22 speech, to the audience of hundreds of educators in Durham, N.C.

William Daniel Riley

William Daniel Riley

"We are so pleased that William Daniel has come into our lives at the beginning of this new century," Mr. Riley said to a cheering audience. He noted that little "Will" weighed in at 8 lbs., 9 oz.

The Riley grandchildren have become a hallmark of the education secretary’s speeches, and he made a point of mentioning others throughout last month’s hourlong address. He also noted that he and his wife, Tunky, have been married for 42 years.

Later that day, at a meeting with North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt Jr. and the state’s higher education chancellors, Mr. Riley made sure his aides had the photo of Will before he entered the room. Once inside, he diligently passed it to all the chancellors and bystanders before his remarks.

Meanwhile, some of the chancellors used the opportunity to rib Gov. Hunt because he misspoke his own grandson’s name during his State of the State speech earlier this year. The child’s name is Joseph, but the governor called him Jonah—an easy mistake to make because all eight of his grandchildren’s names start with ‘J.’

"Oh, you don’t mean!" Mr. Riley exclaimed in mock horror when he heard about the flub.

Mr. Hunt quickly responded, "I’ve since mastered it."

—Joetta L. Sack [email protected]

Vol. 19, Issue 26, Page 30

Published in Print: March 8, 2000, as Federal File

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