Richard Riley headshot

Richard Riley

The Christian Science Monitor says that many Americans regard Dick Riley as "one of the great statesmen of education in this century." David Broder, the columnist for The Washington Post, has called him one of the "most decent and honorable people in public life." And when Riley was governor of South Carolina, he was so popular that the people amended their constitution to enable him to run for a second term.

Wherever he goes, Richard Wilson Riley--U. S. Secretary of Education and grandfather of ten--wins respect for his integrity, principled leadership, commitment to children, and passion for education.

President Clinton chose Dick Riley to be Secretary in December 1992 after Riley won national recognition for his highly successful effort to improve education in South Carolina. During the President’s first term, Riley helped launch historic initiatives to raise academic standards; to improve instruction for the poor and disadvantaged; to expand grants and loan programs to help more Americans go to college; to prepare young people for the world of work; and to improve teaching. He also helped to create the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, which today includes over 4,000 groups.

Riley gets things done by reaching out to all citizens. He prefers partnership to partisanship. His quiet, self-effacing style "can drive impatient, assertive young Washington movers and shakers crazy," the National Journal has written. "He doesn’t grab headlines or clamor for credit... But, inevitably, Riley reaches his goal."

Riley’s efforts were so successful that President Clinton asked him to stay on in his second term to lead the President’s national crusade for excellence in education. Riley and the President agree that education must be America’s number one priority in the years ahead. Already in the second term, Riley has helped win a historic ruling by the F.C.C. to give schools and libraries deep discounts for Internet access and telecommunications services and helped win major improvements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Riley’s goals now include helping all children to master the basics of reading and math; making schools safer; reducing class sizes in grades 1-3 by helping states and schools to hire 100,000 more good teachers; modernizing and building new schools to meet record-breaking student enrollments and to help students learn to use computers, and expanding after-school programs.

Dick Riley was born in Greenville County, S. C., on Jan. 2, 1933. He was graduated cum laude from Furman University in 1954 and served as an officer on a U. S. Navy minesweeper. In 1959, Riley received a law degree from the University of South Carolina. He was a state representative and state senator from 1963-1977 and was elected governor in 1978 and reelected in 1982. Riley is married to the former Ann Osteen Yarborough. They have four children.

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