California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (who I spotted last Sunday at a Washington Starbucks ordering a round of double espressos for himself and four of his staffers) announced today that he is tapping his Jacqueline-of-all-trades adviser, Bonnie Reiss, to be his new education secretary.
Ms. Reiss, a Democrat who has known and advised Mr. Schwarzenegger for years, currently is with Pegasus Capital Advisors, a private equity firm, and serves as one of the governor’s appointed regents on the University of California board, an unpaid, but highly coveted position. She will be the Republican governor’s fifth education secretary since he was sworn into office in 2003.
Given that Mr. Schwarzenegger is a short-timer (term limits prevent him from running again), and that the education secretary’s $175,000-a-year position is a title with little authority, it’s not clear whether Ms. Reiss will be able to make much of an imprint on education policy. (Jack O’Connell, the state’s elected superintendent of public instruction, is the chief executive of the state’s department of education).
But she may prove helpful to the governor as he does more battle with the Democratic-controlled legislature over budget cuts and faces strong push back from local and statewide education leaders on funding for K-12. And Reiss may get a shot at helping California rework its Race to the Top Fund pitch if the state’s application is not chosen as a winner in Round One of the $4 billion federal economic-stimulus grant competition.
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.