A significant gap opened in the ranks of tech-savvy school superintendents on Dec. 29, when Houston's Rod Paige became the first sitting superintendent ever designated to be U.S. Secretary of Education. During a ceremony in the nation's capital, President-elect George W. Bush nominated the 67-year-old superintendent to head the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

In the days immediately following Bush's announcement, the nomination was hailed almost everywhere—both by Democrats and Republicans, educators and politicos—as...

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