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.”


Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
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.
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
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.
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

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

States Interactive Map: Where Critical Race Theory Is Under Attack
This national map tracks where state legislatures are attempting to limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism in the classroom.
2 min read
States Florida State Board of Education Bans the Use of Critical Race Theory in Schools
Lessons that deal with critical race theory and the “1619 Project” are not welcome in Florida’s public schools following a state board vote.
Jeffrey S. Solochek, Tampa Bay Times
4 min read
Richard Corcoran, the Commissioner of the Florida Department of Education and Board Chair Andy Tuck listen as Dianna Greene, the Superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, addresses the board members during Thursday morning's meeting. The board members of the Florida Department of Education met Thursday, June 10, 2021 at the Florida State College at Jacksonville's Advanced Technology Center in Jacksonville, Fla. to take care of routine business but then held public comments before a vote to remove critical race theory from Florida classrooms.
Richard Corcoran, the commissioner of the Florida Department of Education, and Board Chair Andy Tuck listen as Dianna Greene, the superintendent of Duval County Public Schools, addresses board members before a June 10 vote to remove critical race theory from Florida classrooms.
Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union via AP
States Let School Officials Seek Gun Limits for Potentially Violent Students, Feds Suggest
A model state "red flag" bill would let school officials ask courts to halt students' access to guns if they are deemed a risk.
4 min read
Students protest after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Students protest after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
High school students rally at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 21 in support of those affected at the Parkland High School shooting in Florida. J. Scott Applewhite/AP
States From Our Research Center A User’s Guide to the Grading and Methodology
Here's a quick and easy guide to the grading scale and each of the indicators that go into making up the 50-state grades for school finance.
EdWeek Research Center
4 min read
Illustration of C letter grade