States

Schwarzenegger Board Choices Applauded for Political Diversity

By Joetta L. Sack — February 11, 2004 2 min read
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Taking perhaps his biggest step yet toward shaping school policy in California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed seven members—including four Democrats—to the state’s powerful 11-member board of education.

The Republican governor, who took office in November, ended intense speculation when he renewed the appointment of current board President Reed Hastings, a Democrat, and named six new members to the panel that shapes the state’s curriculum and education policies.

All but one of the seats, which is reserved for a student member, are appointed by the governor. The board vacancies represented three appointments that expired in January, plus four vacancies left over from departures during the term of former Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat.

Many education lobbyists and state officials were nervously awaiting the nominations, as the large influx of new members could drastically change the course of the state’s accountability system and compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

But with the diverse selection of moderate appointees, those concerns appear to have diminished. Mr. Hastings, however, has said that he does not expect the board to pick him again as its president.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, a former Democratic state legislator, praised the choices. “All of the individuals he has asked to serve on the board are well-versed in education policy,” Mr. O’Connell said.

The Appointees

In announcing his selections Jan. 29, Gov. Schwarzenegger said the diverse group of appointees was made up of “dedicated public servants” who would “find creative ways to ensure our children are prepared for the future.”

The appointees, who must be confirmed by the Senate are:

Mr. Hastings, 44, the current board president and a high-tech entrepreneur who is also the chief executive officer of a subscription DVD-movie service;

Ruth Bloom, 59, a Democrat, a co-owner of a jewelry company, a college professor, and a longtime advocate for arts education;

Ruth Green, 48, a Democrat, a school board member from Santa Barbara who has been an advocate for special education and curriculum reforms;

Glee Johnson, 56, a Republican, the chief deputy chancellor for the California community college system, who also served in the administration of former Gov. Pete Wilson, a Republican;

Jeannine Martineau, 49, a Republican, a school board member from Riverside County, and the immediate past president of the California School Boards Association;

Bonnie Reiss, 48, a Democrat and a senior education adviser to Gov. Schwarzenegger and a founding director of Arnold’s All-Stars, a nonprofit group that provides after-school programs to middle schools; and

Johnathan Williams, 37, independent, the founder and director of a Los Angeles charter school that has earned praise as a laboratory for innovative curriculum and assessment strategies.

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