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New job for Spagnolo

Illinois' former state superintendent of schools, Joseph A. Spagnolo Jr., is taking on new responsibilities as a consultant to the Chicago school district.

Joseph A. Spagnolo Jr.

Under a six-month contract that started last month, Mr. Spagnolo is overseeing research into the effectiveness of various programs in the 630,000-student district, including its mandatory summer school and expanded prekindergarten programs. He will also work with the district's office of accountability in setting up a permanent office for research and development. Mr. Spagnolo will be paid $60,000 for his work with the district. Paul Vallas, the chief executive officer of the school system, has said the money for the salary will likely come from foundation grants.

After a bumpy four-year tenure as state chief, Mr. Spagnolo announced plans to step down last July. Mr. Spagnolo earned an annual base salary of $137,500 in the state job.

Including Unz

California Assembly Speaker Antonio R. Villaraigosa has riled Hispanic groups by naming Ron Unz--the leader of a statewide fight against bilingual education--to a government-finance task force.

Ron K.Unz

Mr. Unz, a businessman who championed last year's voter-passed Proposition 227 that sought to ended most bilingual classes in California schools, is one of 26 people picked to serve on the speaker's blue-ribbon panel. The group will meet monthly this year to discuss new ways of financing state and local government.

Advocacy groups that opposed Proposition 227 also oppose Mr. Unz's appointment. "Giving him any position or influence where he can continue to do damage to our community ... I'm opposed to that," said Marcos R. Contreras, the state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens.

At least 15 groups statewide are asking Mr. Villaraigosa to rescind the appointment, Mr. Contreras said.

Speaker Villaraigosa, a Democrat, defended his choice last week. "The task of ensuring that our local governments are adequately funded to provide us with the services, the infrastructure, and the schools we demand requires a dialogue that includes every political faction," he said in a written statement.

--Jessica L. Sandham & Robert C. Johnston

Vol. 18, Issue 22, Page 12

Published in Print: February 10, 1999, as State Journal

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