Condoleezza Rice on Education
Secretary of State
And your greatest ally in controlling your response to your circumstances has been a quality education. But today, when I can look at your zip code and I can tell whether you're going to get a good education, can I honestly say it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going? The crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who we are.
My mom was a teacher. I respect the profession. We need great teachers, not mediocre ones. We have to have high standards for our kids, because self-esteem comes from achievement, not from lax standards and false praise.
We need to give parents greater choice, particularly poor parents whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil rights issue of our day.
The Rice schools were even more successful than the churches. My grandfather believed that his schools could better educate black children than the miserable public schools of the day, and he sought funds from any source he could, whether it meant a few cents from parents in the community or $50 from rich white people across town. Granddaddy Rice once told Daddy that "white guilt" was his best ally in funding his schools. But when a white church collected a bunch of old textbooks and "donated" them to my grandfather's school, he politely declined. It was important, he explained, that his kids have the most up-to-date reading materials, just like the white students.
Granddaddy's educational evangelism compelled him to go door-to-door in the poor neighborhoods around him and impress upon the parents the importance of sending their kids to college.
My parents were determined to see that I did not miss an entire year of school. The Board of Education would not budge, so they came up with another idea. Perhaps I could test into 2nd grade the following year. Having received permission for this unusual maneuver, they set about making certain that I would pass the test.
My mother decided to take a year's leave from teaching to coach me in preparation for the exam. Years later when the homeschooling movement became more visible, I belatedly realized that I had been a part of it, if only in an ad hoc way. I was very proud when I passed the test, scoring at a 3rd-grade level in arithmetic and at a 5th-grade level in reading.
I was stunned, and realized that I knew very little of the poverty and lack of opportunity just a few blocks from my house. "Stanford has been running its own programs and its own agenda in East Palo Alto. It's about time that someone ask the people there what they need."
We launched the Center for a New Generation (CNG). We had no idea how hard it would be. Stanford had a well-deserved reputation for giving the help they decided the community needed without asking the community what it wanted.
But by 1992 we were able to launch the program for children in grades 5 to 8. Each summer 250 kids were exposed to hands-on math and science instruction, language arts, instrumental music, dance, and art. The curriculum was repeated as an after-school program for 150 kids.
It's a message that resonates with the Secretary of State, both because of her current job as well as her past career in education. Years before she became a leader on the world stage, Rice was instrumental in starting an after-school program in East Palo Alto. "There's a kind of bargain in America, that if you work hard and if you take the opportunities before you, then you can succeed," Rice told reporters. "A learning center like this makes it possible for these children to have limitless horizons. When I leave this job I'll still be concerned about is that every child in America really has a chance to get a quality education."
"The entire black community was determined on one thing," said Rice. "It was that as America emerged from the old ways of intolerance and prejudice, the children would be ready to take their rightful place in American society. Among all my friends, the kids I grew up with, there was, for example, no doubt in our mind that we would grow up and go to colleges--integrated colleges--just like other Americans. Even under segregation there was a strength of community and a strength of spirit," Condi says.
The way that our research universities work is also important. Stanford is the source of both ideas and of people for Silicon Valley. It is true of Route 128 in Massachusetts, it is true of Austin and the University of Texas. The US is going to for a long time dominate this new economy, because it has these perfectly positioned characteristics.
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Incoming 2021 Biden Administration:
Attorney General:Xavier Becerra
Domestic Policy:Susan Rice
Public Liaison:Cedric Richmond
Former Trump Administration:
Former Obama Administration:
Former Bush Administration:
Pres.:George W. Bush
Former Clinton Administration: