When he took over the Department of Education in 1993, Richard Riley found himself at the helm of an embattled agency that some members of Congress and Republican presidential candidates had called to abolish. Under Riley's stewardship, programs were put in place promoting higher national education standards and expanding federal grants and loan programs. National education standards will continue to be a priority for Riley throughout the second Clinton term, as will securing volunteer tutors and making higher education more accessible for needy and middle-income students.
Sworn in: Jan. 21, 1993 (nominated December 1992, confirmed Jan. 21, 1993)
Succeeded: Lamar Alexander, during the Bush administration
Previous occupation: Partner, law firm of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough; governor, South Carolina, 1979-87; state senator, 1967-76; state representative and state senator, 1963-66; special assistant to a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, 1960; officer on a U.S. Navy minesweeper.
Education: Furman University, 1954 (cum laude); University of South Carolina, 1959 (law degree).
Hometown: Greenville County, S.C.
Date of Birth: Jan. 2, 1933
Spouse: Ann Osteen Yarborough
Children: Four children
Of note: When Riley took office as South Carolina governor in 1979, the state was ranked 49th out of 50 states in spending on education. By the time he left office, South Carolina's per-student spending had moved up to 41st in the nation and the state's Scholastic Aptitude Test scores had improved. Riley sponsored legislation in 1984 to spend $240 million to improve the state's public schools, paid for by a 1-cent sales tax known as the "penny-for-education" idea.
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Sept. 24, 1997
U.S. Bilingual Education Funds Ruled Out for Ebonics Speakers
Dec. 25, 1996
Improving Reading Skills Is 'Most Urgent Task,' Education Secretary Says
Feb. 29, 1996
Riley Lacks Clinton's Flair But Shares Education Focus
Dec. 22, 1992
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