Head of Ore. Department of Education apologizes for cursing during speech

SALEM, Ore. - The head of the Oregon Department of Education says he regrets cursing during a speech at an education conference in Portland.

Speaking to more than 150 principals, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Rob Saxton cursed several times during an hour-long speech. Saxton was speaking about the Common Core curriculum.

"Does everybody understand it's life or death? I guarantee you, if a kid cannot read by the end of the third grade, they are toast," Saxton said during his speech two weeks ago. "It is an oh s--- moment."

Saxton told KATU he knew his speech was being recorded on video, but he didn't expect it to be posted online.

"I would say if I confused the point with language I used, I apologize. I don't want to use inappropriate language or have kids think about that," he said. "I also want them to know how important it is we focus on making sure kids have the skill sets they need to be successful."

Saxton wishes he hadn't cursed so many times. He said he was telling a story about rafting and mentioned a rock in the Deschutes River that has a profane name. Saxton said it was life or death when he approached the rock in the river and compared that moment to a child being able to read by the end of third grade.

Saxton said he knows students would get in trouble for using that same word in school. He wanted to get the principals in the audience fired up. Many of their schools had the lowest test scores in the state, Saxton said.

Saxton was appointed Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction by Governor John Kitzhaber in 2012.

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Watch the speech. Warning: contains profane language