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Rice Voices Concern over Failing Education in U.S.
    2008-10-23 11:24:25     Xinhua

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Wednesday that failing public education was her greatest national security concern.

Failing pubic schools could undermine the United States' ability to lead and compete in a global age, Rice told a national women's conference in Long Beach, about 64 km south of Los Angeles.

Rice called for equal access to educational opportunities which she said lies at the heart of one of the nation's most important core values -- the belief in the United States as a true meritocracy.

The lack of quality education for all children jeopardizes the fundamental American belief that every citizen has the opportunity for success, no matter their background or place of origin, Rice said.

"If we can't keep that true for every American, we're going to lose who we are, and then we won't lead, and so it is for me the most pressing national security issue," she said.

As an educator, Rice said it broke her heart to see "kids who might be the next Nobel Prize winner ... trapped in some public school that's just basically warehousing them."

Rice was a Stanford University professor before joining the Bush administration.

"But as a secretary of state, it makes me terrified because ... if we cannot do better in educating all of our people, then we are not going to be competitive in a global economy," she said. "We're going to become protectionist, we're going to turn inward, the United States is not going to lead."

To address the issue, part of the answer lies in "the best practices" adopted by schools that succeed and "having high standards," Rice said.

She acknowledged that education has not been one of the more pressing issues addressed in the presidential campaign.

Speaking about her plans for the near future, Rice said after leaving public office she would return to Stanford University to teach, write books and to "work on these issues of educational opportunity."

The annual Women's Conference in Long Beach opened Wednesday with the participation of 10,000 women from across the nation.

The event, which began more than two decades ago as a California government initiative for women small business owners and working professionals, has mushroomed into the largest forum of its kind in the United States.



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