U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige touted President Bush’s educational reforms on Saturday at a packed, muggy Highland High School auditorium.
Paige was the keynote speaker for Gilbert’s weeklong 2004 Constitution Fair that ended Saturday night.
Despite rain, cancellations and numerous delays, Paige spoke for 20 minutes as part of an hour-long patriotic program celebrating the U.S. Constitution.
"Because of the high expectations under No Child Left Behind, test scores are higher than ever," he said. He also commended the president for supporting charter schools because "they offer parents more choices."
Paige’s speech wasn’t all rosy. "We spend the most of any nation on education, yet we are in the middle of the pack," he said.
Paige said he was impressed by the crowd’s willingness to brave Saturday’s rainy weather to attend the patriotic event.
"Instead of the hay capital of the world, you’ll be the Constitutional capital of the world," he said.
Gilbert may also be the toddler capital of the world. During the program, babies cried, children complained and the auditorium’s main aisle was lined with baby carriages as the town lived up to its reputation of having the highest population of children under 5 in the nation.