States

Schwarzenegger Picks Riordan For Key Adviser Spot

By Joetta L. Sack — November 12, 2003 2 min read

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan will be California’s education secretary, Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger announced last week.

The high-profile appointment officially makes Mr. Riordan, 73, the incoming governor’s top education adviser, a role he has played in recent months as Mr. Schwarzenegger sought the office in the recall election that ousted Gov. Gray Davis. The governor-elect will take office on Nov. 17.

“I am confident that his experience in public service and commitment to reforming our public schools will benefit California,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in a Nov. 3 statement announcing his choice of Mr. Riordan for the Cabinet post.

Mr. Riordan—who, like Mr. Schwarzenegger, is a Republican—took an active interest in education issues during his tenure as mayor from 1993 to 2001. He promoted reading and after-school programs, for example. In 1999, he also helped finance new candidates for the Los Angeles school board, which he viewed as dysfunctional.

Many political observers in the state were not surprised at the appointment, as Mr. Riordan had been viewed as the top contender for the job in recent weeks.

Kevin Gordon, the executive director of the California Association of School Business Officials, said that Mr. Riordan’s appointment would bring a higher profile to the office, possibly at the expense of state’s elected superintendent of public instruction, former Democratic state lawmaker Jack O’Connell.

Mr. Gordon said Mr. Riordan, who was already a prominent Los Angeles attorney before being elected mayor, had focused much of his political career on education issues.

‘He’s Not an Educator’

“Dick Riordan is a moderate,” Mr. Gordon said. “I think folks in the education community on both ends of the political spectrum ought to be happy.”

The California Teachers’ Association, however, was not happy.

It would like the governor to abolish the job of education secretary, which some educators believe is redundant and unnecessary. To make their case, CTA officials point to the independent state superintendent, who oversees the education department, and an 11-member state board of education—appointed by the governor—that sets policy.

The education secretary has a staff of about 20 people who work on policy recommendations and education projects for the governor. Mr. Riordan, whose new job does not require Senate confirmation, will succeed Kerry Mazzoni, who has held the job under Gov. Davis.

Last week, CTA Associate Executive Director John Hein resigned his position as an education adviser on the Schwarzenegger transition team because the CTA was not consulted on Mr. Riordan’s appointment.

David A. Sanchez, vice president of the CTA, denied that there was any animosity toward Mr. Riordan personally.

“He’s not an educator; he’s never been in the classroom,” Mr. Sanchez said. “He may be somewhat familiar with what’s happened in schools, but that department [the secretary’s office] is wasted bureaucracy.”

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
Professional Development Webinar
Building Leadership Excellence Through Instructional Coaching
Join this webinar for a discussion on instructional coaching and ways you can link your implement or build on your program.
Content provided by Whetstone Education/SchoolMint
Teaching Webinar Tips for Better Hybrid Learning: Ask the Experts What Works
Register and ask your questions about hybrid learning to our expert panel.
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
Families & the Community Webinar
Family Engagement for Student Success With Dr. Karen Mapp
Register for this free webinar to learn how to empower and engage families for student success featuring Karen L. Mapp.
Content provided by Panorama Education & PowerMyLearning

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Chief Operating Officer
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Director of Headstart
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools
Chief Operating Officer
New Haven, CT, US
New Haven Public Schools

Read Next

States Research Identifies 18th Century School for Black Children
Virginia organizations are teaming up to preserve an 18th-Century school dedicated to the education of enslaved and free Black children.
1 min read
States Opinion How Jeb Bush’s ExcelinEd Is Tackling the Next 5 Years
Rick Hess talks with ExcelinEd CEO Patricia Levesque about the organization's goals to improve education after the pandemic and beyond.
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
States Governors, State Lawmakers: Schools Should Reopen for In-Person Learning
After months of leaving the decision up to districts, state leaders are taking a more direct role in getting students back in classrooms.
10 min read
Students at Louisa County High School in Mineral, Va., sit behind plexiglass dividers to promote social distancing.
Students at Louisa County High School in Mineral, Va., sit behind Plexiglas dividers. Virginia lawmakers are considering a bill that would require all school districts to offer in-person instruction with COVID-19 precautions.
Erin Edgerton/The Daily Progress via AP
States From Our Research Center State Grades on Chance for Success: 2021 Map and Rankings
Examine the grades and scores for states and the nation on the socioeconomic and other indicators in the Chance-for-Success Index.
EdWeek Research Center
1 min read