Federal Federal File

Reality Check

By Michelle R. Davis — March 29, 2005 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Rod Paige Gets Used to Life After Serving in the Cabinet

Former Secretary of Education Rod Paige readily admits that it took some effort to adjust to “civilian” life.

Mr. Paige, who stepped down from the helm of the Department of Education in January, called the transition “really tough” during a chat in Washington after a March 15 panel discussion about the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“It was traumatic,” said a seemingly relaxed Mr. Paige, wearing his trademark cowboy boots. “I’m just getting my arms around it.”

Without a staff to manage his affairs, Mr. Paige said that during the first few weeks after leaving the department, he misplaced phone messages and accidentally deleted e-mails.

He also had to get used the tedious process of removing his shoes and emptying his pockets while going through airport security instead of being whisked through as a Cabinet member.

But Mr. Paige, who spends time at his homes in Houston and Washington, had been warned before his departure by one of his predecessors, Lamar Alexander, who served under President George H.W. Bush and is now a Republican senator from Tennessee.

“He said, ‘Don’t be surprised if you go to get into the car and you get into the passenger side,’ ” Mr. Paige said.

Mr. Paige’s untethered feelings didn’t last long, however. This month, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, located in Washington and the host of the ESEA panel, announced that Mr. Paige was coming on board as a public-policy scholar for six months.

He’ll continue studying and writing about an issue that has been his passion ever since his days as the superintendent of the Houston school district: the achievement gap between most minority students and their white peers.

“The issue for me is the achievement gap. It always has been. I’m personally offended by it,” Mr. Paige said. “I don’t accept the premise that this gap can’t be closed.”

And there is a real plus to becoming just a regular citizen instead of a Cabinet secretary, Mr. Paige said. He can now enjoy one of his favorite pastimes—browsing in bookstores—without any staff members reading over his shoulder or reminding him of his next appointment.

“It’s invigorating,” he said.

Related Tags:

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar The Science of Reading and Multilingual Learners: What Educators Need to Know
Join experts in reading science and multilingual literacy to discuss what the latest research means for multilingual learners in classrooms adopting a science of reading-based approach.
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Use Your 'Teacher Voice,' Jill Biden Urges in a Push for Political Activism
Voting in the midterms is a critical step educators can take to bolster democracy, the first lady and other labor leaders told teachers.
5 min read
First Lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention, Friday, July 15, 2022, in Boston.
First lady Jill Biden speaks during the American Federation of Teachers convention in Boston.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Federal Federal Initiative Leverages COVID Aid to Expand After-School, Summer Learning
The Education Department's Engage Every Student effort includes partnerships with civic organizations and professional groups.
3 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event on June 2, 2022, at the Department of Education in Washington.
U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona speaks at an event at the Department of Education in Washington in June. The department has announced a push for expanded access to after-school and summer learning programs.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Restraint and Seclusion, and Disability Rights: Ed. Department Has Work to Do, Audit Finds
The Government Accountability Office releases a checklist of how the U.S. Department of Education is performing on a list of priorities.
4 min read
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the Education Department in Washington on Aug. 9, 2017.
Flags decorate a space outside the office of the Education Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education. The Government Accountability Office has released recommended priorities for the Education Department that target special education rights.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
Federal Biden Administration Boosts Grants for Community Schools, Sharpens Funding Priorities
The Education Department will award $68 million through its Full-Service Community Schools program.
2 min read
First-graders Rhiannon Hanson, left, and Holden Ashbrook make fruit skewers in class at Lincoln Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa, on Jan. 20, 2022. Project Rooted has partnered with Dubuque Community Schools for a pilot program in which it provides monthly boxes containing local foods and a project to first-grade classrooms.
First-graders Rhiannon Hanson, left, and Holden Ashbrook make fruit skewers at Lincoln Elementary School in Dubuque, Iowa. The U.S. Department of Education is providing grants to high-quality community schools that provide wraparound services like the nutrition programs at Lincoln Elementary.
Jessica Reilly/Telegraph Herald via AP