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Breakout Moderator Biography

Richard W. Riley
Department of Education

President Clinton chose Richard 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, Secretary Riley helped launch historic initiatives to raise academic standards, improve instruction for the poor and disadvantaged, expand grants and loan programs to help more Americans go to college, prepare young people for the world of work and improve teaching. He also helped to create the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, which today includes over 4,000 groups.

Secretary 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. He and the President agree that education must be America's number one priority in the years ahead. Already in the second term, Secretary Riley has helped win an 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.

Secretary Riley's goals now include helping all children to master the basics of reading and math, making schools safer, reducing class sizes, modernizing and building new schools, helping students learn to use computers and expanding after-school programs.

Secretary Riley was born in Greenville County, S. C., on Jan. 2, 1933. He 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.

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