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Schools Chief O'Connell Comments on Governor's Proposals to Eliminate Quality Education Commission, Impose Merit Pay

Press Release, Cailfornia Department of Education, January 7, 2005

O'Connell Names Alternative Panel

SACRAMENTO -- State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell issued the following statement on Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to eliminate the Quality Education Commission and institute merit pay for California teachers:

"For the past year, I have urged Governor Schwarzenegger to make his appointments to the Quality Education Commission. The fundamental purpose of the Quality Education Commission is to finally accomplish what 30 other states have done and begin the discussion on what it truly takes to educate a child. Now the Governor has proposed to eliminate the Quality Education Commission and create a Governor's Advisory Commission on Education Excellence. I have great respect for Ted Mitchell and applaud the Governor for asking him to serve as the chair of this new commission. However, if this commission does not address the question of adequacy of funding for our schools, it is a flawed mission.

"The Governor has called for transparency in education funding. Transparency should also mean knowing the true cost of education. I strongly urge the Governor to charge this commission with undertaking an honest discussion about how best to improve education in California . We should not wait a day longer.

"As the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning recently reported, California desperately needs more teachers to keep pace with our student population. We need to encourage teachers to enter and stay in the teaching profession and provide quality professional development and training to support their work in the classroom. Governor Schwarzenegger's proposal to impose merit pay would make the challenging profession of teaching less desirable at a time when we sorely need to recruit, develop and support excellent teachers. His approach would pit teacher against teacher when we know that collaboration is the key to improving student achievement. Schools should be a community of support working together toward better results for our students."

Occidental leader to advise governor

By Alexa H. Bluth, January 8, 2005, Sacramento Bee

Occidental College President Ted Mitchell has been tapped as one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's education advisers. Mitchell will chair the newly formed Governor's Advisory Committee on Education Excellence, Education Secretary Richard Riordan announced Thursday.

He has served as president of the Los Angeles-area university since 1999 and served as an education adviser to Riordan when he was Los Angeles mayor. He also has served as a former deputy to the president at Stanford and vice chancellor at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is a member of the board of The McClatchy Co., which publishes The Bee.

The new committee will help to take on some of the tasks of the Quality Education Commission, which Schwarzenegger is proposing to be eliminated along with dozens of others as part of a massive state government reorganization plan.

A 2nd Schools Panel Is Named

By Jean Merl, Los Angeles Times, April 14, 2005

State schools chief Jack O'Connell on Monday named members of another new panel aimed at improving California's struggling public education system. The P16 Council seeks better coordination among school levels, from pre-kindergarten through college.

The announcement of the panel by O'Connell, the state superintendent of public instruction, comes days after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named members of his own advisory committee, led by Occidental College President Theodore R. Mitchell. The governor intends his committee to replace the Quality Education Commission, created in 2002 to analyze the state's school finance system.

Barry Munitz, president and chief executive of the J. Paul Getty Trust and former California State University chancellor, will head O'Connell's 44-member council. O'Connell announced in December that he would form the panel and released its membership roster in a telephone news conference Monday.

The two groups have some overlapping members, including San Francisco schools Supt. Arlene Ackerman and former Paramount Studios chief Sherry Lansing, but O'Connell said the panels have different missions.

The governor's 15-member committee will spend two years focusing on school finance, governance, and training and retention of teachers and administrators. The superintendent's council, to convene May 17 and continue indefinitely, will concentrate on improving student achievement.

When the groups' concerns overlap, O'Connell said he expects his council will "be complementary and working in concert" with the governor, state Education Secretary Richard Riordan and Schwarzenegger's committee. O'Connell said Munitz and Mitchell are friends who have worked together on education causes through the years.

"This is about improving student achievement at all levels, eliminating the achievement gap [in which blacks and Latinos generally lag behind whites and Asian Americans] and really trying to build a comprehensive, seamless system from preschool to higher education," Munitz said in an interview Monday.

The state's schools, while posting gains on standardized tests in recent years, continue to trail much of the rest of the nation in student achievement, per-pupil spending and teacher qualifications, several recent studies have shown. The Republican governor is battling the Democratic-controlled Legislature and education groups over his proposed budget and other issues, including teacher pay.


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Last modified: January 10, 2005

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