School & District Management

Outgoing San Diego Schools Chief Tapped as California’s Next Education Secretary

By Joetta L. Sack — April 29, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has picked one of the nation’s best-known district superintendents to be his next state secretary of education.

Alan D. Bersin, the outgoing chief of the 140,000-student San Diego schools, will succeed Richard J. Riordan in the Cabinet-level post as the governor’s chief education adviser. Mr. Riordan, a former Los Angeles mayor, announced his retirement from the job on April 27.

In announcing the appointment of Mr. Bersin at an April 29 press conference, Gov Schwarzenegger said, “Alan is a reformer and the perfect choice for secretary for education.”

The governor, a Republican, added of Mr. Bersin: “He is a big believer in standards and accountability in schools. He wants to use school performance reports in the most productive way for our kids and teachers.”

Mr. Bersin, a Democrat and a former federal prosecutor, has served as San Diego’s superintendent since 1998. He has drawn national attention for his intense focus on instructional methods, through such initiatives as a leadership academy for administrators, peer coaches for teachers, and a basic-skills curriculum for students.

But in January, the San Diego school board voted to amend the contract of Mr. Bersin, 58, to end this summer, a year ahead of schedule. The contract followed efforts by new board members to dismantle his improvement plans.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, the state’s elected schools chief, praised Mr. Bersin for his success in San Diego at improving achievement, shrinking academic-achievement gaps between students from different racial and ethnic groups, and his implementation of the state’s standards.

“I have known and admired Alan Bersin for many years,” Mr. O’Connell, a former Democratic state senator, said in a statement. “He has a wealth of experience, a passion for education, and strong leadership qualities.”

Mr. Bersin will begin the secretary’s job July 1, the day after Mr. Riordan departs.

Though the superintendent of public instruction and the gubernatorially appointed state school board hold more authority over K-12 education policy, the education secretary often takes a prominent role in articulating and championing the governor’s agenda for schools.

“I share Governor Schwarzenegger’s commitment to provide the tools and resources necessary to deliver the best possible education to every California child and the best training to every California teacher,” Mr. Bersin said at the press conference.

Mr. Schwarzenegger is facing tough challenges from teachers’ unions, other education groups, and the Democratic-led legislature in getting many of his education plans approved. The governor is currently promoting ballot initiatives to restructure teacher tenure and tweak the state’s school funding formula.

Mr. Bersin holds a law degree from Yale University and served under President Clinton as the U.S. attorney in San Diego before becoming superintendent there.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Your Questions on the Science of Reading, Answered
Dive into the Science of Reading with K-12 leaders. Discover strategies, policy insights, and more in our webinar.
Content provided by Otus
Mathematics Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table: Breaking the Cycle: How Districts are Turning around Dismal Math Scores
Math myth: Students just aren't good at it? Join us & learn how districts are boosting math scores.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management How Principals Use the Lunch Hour to Target Student Apathy
School leaders want to trigger the connection between good food, fun, and rewards.
5 min read
Lunch hour at the St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West in Albertville, Minn.
Students share a laugh together during lunch hour at the St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West in Albertville, Minn.
Courtesy of Lynn Jennissen
School & District Management Opinion Teachers and Students Need Support. 5 Ways Administrators Can Help
In the simplest terms, administrators advise, be present by both listening carefully and being accessible electronically and by phone.
10 min read
Images shows colorful speech bubbles that say "Q," "&," and "A."
iStock/Getty
School & District Management Opinion When Women Hold Each Other Back: A Call to Action for Female Principals
With so many barriers already facing women seeking administrative roles, we should not be dimming each other’s lights.
Crystal Thorpe
4 min read
A mean female leader with crossed arms stands in front of a group of people.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva
School & District Management Opinion Want a Leadership Edge? You Already Have What You Need
School leaders are faced daily with challenging situations. Here's how to prevent the tail from wagging the dog in responding.
Danny Bauer
4 min read
Screen Shot 2024 04 05 at 5.35.06 AM
Canva