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Richard W. Riley "You can agree with Dick Riley or disagree on policy, but you can't not like him, he’s just a good guy.” -William F.Goodling,R-Pa. By Buckley and Clay 11-11-03 Biography Richard Wilson Riley was born in Greenville, S.C., on Jan. 2, 1933. His father, Edward, was an attorney and chairman of the state Democratic Party. In 1950, he graduated from Greenville Senior High School and received the senior superlative of personality plus. He participated in student government as a member of the “president’s cabinet”, oddly foreshadowing his political career. He graduated cum laude from Furman University in 1954. Riley served in the U.S. Navy until two years later when he was diagnosed with rheumatoid spondylitis, a painful bone disease. He received a law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1959 Biography After working in his father’s law firm, he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1963. Four years later he joined the state senate, where he served until he was elected Governor in 1978, South Carolinians amended the state constitution in order to elect Riley to a second term in 1981. In 1992, President Clinton appointed Dick Riley Secretary of Education, where he served until the year 2001. He became a Distinguished Professor at Furman University and serves as Advisory Board Chair of the Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, politics and Public Leadership. He has also been named Distinguished Professor at University of South Carolina, and also Distinguished Senior Fellow at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. Interview with Dick Riley The main questions asked in this interview dealt mainly with vital decisions R.W Riley had to make near the ending point of his last term as a political position holder. Questions were also asked to determine if those decisions affected his passion for his job, and his future to come. CB (Clay and Buckley): When was your interest in education first started? Were there certain events in time that led up to this interest? Secretary Riley: “I had wonderful teachers, wonderful parents, but I got really interested in public service and public policymaking in the South. It became very clear to me from our history that South Carolina had had a weak history in terms of education. African American children were systematically undereducated. We had just a small percentage of children who were college bound. It was a bad system. I realized that I had some authority as a member of the state government and state senate for ten years, and then as governor for ten years, to do something about that. I was determined then to get heavily involved in education to try to help all children reach not just the average, but excellence. I've worked for that diligently ever since. Many parts of the South are doing very well. For example,the rural Delta region, is one that still hadn’t reached the top level of economic success during my service. That's one reason why we traveled that area, to let those people know that education is the way.” What happened near the end of your term in as a political position holder? Did these actions affect your plans for the future? Riley: I had reached a commitment with my wife not to even think about that. I had a very important position. Every day was important. If I had gotten off into what Dick Riley was going to do in the end, I would have been preoccupied with that. I was determined not to do that. I promised President Clinton that I would stay there until the end of the term, and I ended up staying absolutely focused until the very last day. Another Question? CB: Did you begin to slow down or lose passion for what you were doing near the end of your term? Riley: The nature of the process was that our appropriations bill, labor, education, and health was a hard one. It usually came up at the end of the year. It was going to be passed one way or another in September. Just as it's been since 1995, when Republicans had a majority in the House and Senate our main weapon was the president's veto. We were able then to have some leverage at the end of the year because you have to pass a budget. I was successful in last year to get positive things to happen for education in. That was an election year, so September was the end of the term. I was very anxious for this particular September to be an education month. I hoped that Congress had realized what was at stake, and they did. At that time it the future of our country.” CB: How much progress had you seen in all of your years as a politician? Riley: A lot of the children that we're seen in the Delta region were children whose parents did not have an education, probably didn't have an opportunity to have an education. Certainly their grandparents did not. These are kids who, when they come home at night, they don't have a computer. Their opportunity to learn this day’s language of technology had to come out of the school. In the one of schools we visited [Whitten Elementary School in Marianna, Arkansas], technology was one of the real priorities. Every classroom had at least six computers. That's was unheard of in my day. They had a computer lab too. They had very good software. Every classroom is connected to the Internet. You didn’t see that kind of stuff in many schools around the country. That school has placed a lot of emphasis on letting these poor children work with computers, learn how to use computers, learn how to learn with computers. •What was your experience like as Governor and Secretary of Education? “I loved serving as Governor.” “[As Secretary of Education] I was asked to follow what I did for South Carolina for education for the whole nation.” •How has the political world influenced your view on education? “Anything that is important is affected by education.” Accomplishments • Approved and signed the Education Improvement Act to raise money for school reform in 1984 • By his second term as governor he visited all ninety- one South Carolina school districts • Helped create the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education • Helped win ruling by the FCC to give schools and libraries large discounts for internet and telecommunication services • Helped improve the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Bibliography • South Carolina Governors: Richard Wilson Riley.” 2003. Online Internet. November 4, 2003. <:http://sciway.net/hist/governors/riley.html> From this source we Found bibliographical information about Dick Riley. • Biographical facts and accomplishments. “Richard W. Riley: U.S. Secretary of Education.” Online Internet. November 4, 2003. <:http://www.ed.gov/offices/OS/riley.html> From this source we found information on Riley’s Accomplishments. • Whitfield, George. “Dick Riley Head of the Education Department.” Greenville News. 17,May, 1991. Page 1, 4b From this source we found information about the political issues during Dick Riley’s term. Partners Dedication Both partners worked equally as hard on the presentation. This was determined due to the fact that we were together, finding and putting together information, and finalizing the project.
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