Secretary of Education Rod Paige under fire for support of Christian schools
"All things equal," U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige told Baptist Press earlier this week, "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. Where a child is taught that, there is a source of strength greater than themselves."
Well, that's kind of what he said. The Department of Education called a press conference Wednesday to clarify the remarks and to released a partial transcript of the Baptist Press interview.
"Given the choice between private and Christian, uh, or private and public universities, who do you think has the best deal?" Baptist Press reporter Todd Starnes asked.
"That's a judgment, too, that would vary because each of them have real strong points and some of them have vulnerabilities," Paige replied. "But you know, all things being equal, I'd prefer to have a child in a school where there's a strong appreciation for values, the kinds of values that I think are associated with the Christian communities, 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."
But both statements caused a major backlash, not just against Paige, but against any who would support religious schools.
"One may take from [the comments] that Mr. Paige's personal preference is for Christian schools, which is not a firing offense but is faintly insulting given that he is the nation's lead spokesman for public schools," says a Washington Post editorial. "Or one may see it as an encouragement to public school teachers to mimic Christian values ...1
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