April 14, 2003


Paige's Remarks on Religion in Schools Decried: Critics Call On Education Secretary to Repudiate Published Statement or Resign (Alan Cooperman, April 9, 2003, Washington Post)
Civil liberties and education groups called yesterday for Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige to apologize or resign after he told a Baptist publication that he believes it is important for schools to teach Christian values.

"All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community, where a child is taught to have a strong faith," Paige said in an interview published Monday by the Baptist Press, the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. [...]

Paige, who serves as a deacon at Brentwood Baptist Church in Houston, said the animosity against God in public school settings is puzzling, according to the Baptist Press article.

"The reason that Christian schools and Christian universities are growing is a result of a strong value system," he said. "In a religious environment the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values."

Sandra Feldman, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a union representing 1.3 million teachers, said Paige should quickly clarify or recant his comments.

"Secretary Paige is right about one thing: Our public schools are filled with, as he said, many different kinds of kids with different values. But it is insulting for the secretary -- who should be the advocate for the over 50 million children in our public schools -- to say their diversity somehow compromises those schools. Nothing could be further from the truth. That is precisely what makes our public schools great," she said.

Secretary Paige's remarks, as we noted last week, seem rather unexceptionable, certainly unworthy of the hysteria generated amongst the Teachers' Unions. But, the contoversy is even sillier once you see what he said, verbatim, in the interview, TRANSCRIPT: Interview with the Secretary of Education (Baptist Press News, Apr 11, 2003):
EDITORS' NOTE: On April 7 Baptist Press published a report by Todd Starnes about an interview with the U.S. Secretary of Education, the Honorable Rod Paige, conducted on March 7. The report accurately portrayed the substance of Dr. Paige's faith in God but contained factual and contextual errors in other respects. We regret the misrepresentations by the writer. Todd Starnes has been a trusted correspondent but no longer will be employed to write for Baptist Press. To counter any confusion, we are publishing the full-text transcript of the interview below.
--Baptist Press [...]

STARNES: The Bush Administration has been very open and supportive of having, you know, more religion in the schools or at least having the acceptance of religion in the schools. Tell me, what is your personal opinion of that? Do you think that we should be embracing, you know, religious values in our schools?

THE SECRETARY: Absolutely. I think that religious values are wonderful values that we should embrace in our daily lives wherever we are, and this would [unintelligible] kids are in school. But I think it's even more important that they embrace these values in homes.

STARNES: Uh-huh. The results of that, what do you think the results of that would be if people did that?

THE SECRETARY: I think we'd have a much calmer and more gentle and compassionate society if people did that. [...]

STARNES: What do you think one of the chief benefits of a religious education is?

THE SECRETARY: Because of the strong value system support. Values go right along with that. In some of our other schools, we don't have quite as strong a push for values as I think we would need. In a religious environment the value system is pretty well set and supported. In public schools there are so many different kids from different kinds of experiences that it's very hard to get consensus around some core values. [...]

STARNES: One final question, Mr. Secretary, we're hearing a lot in the Christian colleges and universities about Christian world view education. Do you have any comment on that, what you think about that?

THE SECRETARY: No, I really haven't -- I've not heard enough about that to formulate a view, so I probably need to take a pass on that one.

STARNES: Given the choice between private and Christian - or private and public universities, what do you think -- who do you think has the best deal?

THE SECRETARY: That's a judgment, too, that would vary because each of them have real strong points and some of them have some vulnerabilities. But, you know, all things being equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school where there's a strong appreciation for values, the kind of values that I think are associated with the Christian communities, and so that this child can be brought up in an environment that teaches them to have strong faith and to understand that there is a force greater than them personally.

Unless the "[unintelligible]" portion lasts 18 minutes and includes some kind of Nixonesque anti-Semitic tirade, a bunch of editorial pages owe Mr. Paige an apology.
Posted by Orrin Judd at April 14, 2003 7:08 PM

Paige cannot understand why anyone would

object to Baptist values being forced down

their non-Baptist children's throats.

That's because he's on the inside looking out.

People on the outside looking in have a

different opinion.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 16, 2003 12:12 AM