Paige, 67, has led the Houston Independent School District since 1994. The 90 percent minority district is Texas’ largest and the seventh-largest in the nation.
Paige is credited with establishing Houston as one of the nation’s top urban school districts, and test scores and academic performance have improved during his tenure. The Houston district no longer has social promotion and has ended racial quotas in magnet school assignments.
Critics say Paige has not done much for Hispanic students, 54 percent of the student population. Also, Paige promised to make his district’s teachers the highest paid in the area, but suburbs have matched his pay increases. With a salary of $275,000, Paige is thought to be the highest paid superintendent in the country.
Before becoming superintendent of Houston’s schools, Paige was elected to the district’s board 1989. He also held several posts at historically black Texas Southern University. Before becoming dean of the school’s College of Education, he was a professor and head coach of the football team.
Paige was born in Mississippi, the son of a school principal and a librarian. He holds a bachelor of science degree from Jackson State University and a master’s and doctorate in physical education from Indiana University.
A longtime Republican who worked on former President George Bush’s 1980 presidential campaign, Paige is the second black nominee for President-elect Bush’s Cabinet. Bush tapped Colin Powell for Secretary of State.