COMET • Vol. 6, No. 13 – 28 April 2005


(1) Advance Notice– Request for Proposals-Improving Teacher Quality

Source:  Karen Humphrey, California Postsecondary Education Commission (via Susie Hakansson)
URL:    [NOTE:  Due to CPEC’s office move, this Web site will be unavailable until at least Tuesday, May 3, 2005.]

The California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) announces that it will issue a Request for Proposals for the federal Improving Teacher Quality grant program in mid-May 2005.  These grants are funded under Title II-A of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001 to support professional development activities for prospective, new, and veteran teachers.

The 2005 Request for Proposals will target a single initiative–addressing academic literacy in all subject areas in secondary education.  Projects will be funded for up to three years.  Projects must be based on scientifically based research and also must include a plan for evaluation research to be conducted in conjunction with the professional development that is delivered.  More details will be available upon release of the Request for Proposals.

KEY DATES (These dates are subject to change, so please check the CPEC Web site at after May 3, 2005 for updated information.)

Mid-May 2005 (approximately May 16)

Request for Proposals is posted on CPEC Web site and mailed to institutions and agencies.

May 24-26

Technical Assistance Workshops to be held from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (Check Web site for specific locations.):

May 24–Los Angeles Area

May 25–Central San Joaquin Valley

May 26-East Bay/Oakland

June 17

Deadline to submit notice of intent to apply (required in order to receive application)

August 1

Deadline to submit proposals

August 5- August 26

Proposals reviewed and rated; finalists selected

September 6 – September 12

Interviews with finalists

October 1, 2005 (anticipated)

Grant awards announced

Interested agencies are encouraged to form partnerships in advance of the submission deadlines.  Partnerships eligible for Improving Teacher Quality grants through CPEC must include an institution of higher education as lead applicant.  The institution’s School or Department of Education AND a department in the school of arts and sciences must both be represented in the partnership.  In addition, the partnerships must include a high need K-12 Local Educational Agency (LEA).  Additional partners, including additional institutions of higher education, K-12 agencies, businesses, and nonprofit community-based organizations, may be included.

Print copies of the Request for Proposals will be mailed on the release date and will be available as a PDF file at the Improving Teacher Quality Web site (below) on the same date.  Additional information and program contacts are available at the above Web site.

(2) Governor Schwarzenegger Announces Appointments to the State Board of Education

Source: State of California Office of the Governor – 21 April 2005

On April 21, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the following appointments to the State Board of Education:

Yvonne Chan, 60, of Northridge is the principal of the Vaughn Next Century Learning Center, which serves 1,700 pre-kindergartener through 8th grade students living in poverty in Los Angeles. In addition, she is an adjunct professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and serves as the mayor’s appointee on the Los Angeles City Commission for Children, Youth, and Families. (Chan is a Democrat.)

Kenneth Noonan, 64, of Oceanside–Since 1997 he has served as the superintendent of the Oceanside Unified School District. He previously served as superintendent of the Corcoran and Gilroy Unified School Districts. He began his career in education as an English and social studies teacher at Bell Gardens High School and Montebello Junior High School in 1966. (Noonan is a Republican.)

Both appointments are for 4-year terms and require Senate confirmation.

(3) “Oceanside Schools Chief is Named to State Board” by Sherry Parmet

Source: San Diego Union-Tribune – 22 April 2005

Oceanside schools Superintendent Ken Noonan was appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday to the state Board of Education. Though it is a highly sought-after position, the governor’s office courted Noonan for one of three vacant seats. He was asked to apply and then flown to Sacramento for an interview a few days later.

The state Board of Education sets policy for more than 6 million kindergarten- through 12th-grade students enrolled in public education. That policy includes adopting textbooks, establishing state academic content standards in the core subjects, and approving a statewide testing program.

Noonan will continue as superintendent of Oceanside Unified while he serves on the 11-member state board.

Noonan was tapped for several reasons. Under his leadership in Oceanside, test scores have soared, the achievement gap between white students and minorities has narrowed, and a $125 million school construction bond was passed…

In 1999, no Oceanside school had reached the state’s goal of 800 on the Academic Performance Index, which assigns schools a score between 200 and 1000 based on test scores. This year, five schools exceeded that benchmark, and the number of schools surpassing 700 since 1999 quadrupled to 16.

Noonan thrust Oceanside Unified into the spotlight with his implementation of Proposition 227, a voter initiative that largely dismantled bilingual education. Many districts continued to offer bilingual instruction to students who submitted waivers. But Oceanside Unified denied most waivers. The test scores of English learners showed immediate improvement in the first couple of years after the switch to English-only instruction.

Noonan and administrators of El Camino High School were among representatives of four schools nationwide recently invited by the U.S. Department of Education to explain to an educational task force in Washington, D.C., how they closed the achievement gap…

One vacancy on the state education board remains.

(4) “Riordan to Quit Post in Education” by Peter Nicholas and Jean Merl

Source: Los Angeles Times – 28 April 2005

Richard Riordan, the former two-term mayor of Los Angeles, is stepping down as state secretary of education after an uneasy 17-month tenure, during which he enjoyed little authority in shaping education policy.

The resignation comes at a time when polls show public confidence in the state’s education policies sagging…

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the former mayor had submitted his resignation last month. Riordan had agreed to stay on until Schwarzenegger began the search for a replacement, the statement said, adding that Riordan, who turns 75 on Sunday, will leave office June 30.

Neither the governor’s statement nor one released by Riordan gave a reason for the departure.

Ben Austin, a former aide to Riordan, said the former mayor “feels he has accomplished what he set out to accomplish as secretary of education.”

“He honestly feels he’s at a point now where, in order to continue working on those issues–accountability and innovation–he’s a better advocate on the outside…where he can really put himself out there.”

Riordan’s supporters credit him with championing charter schools–giving families more choices in education–and pushing to make principals more accountable for school performance.

But even friends of Riordan’s have said that despite being close to Schwarzenegger and First Lady Maria Shriver, he has had limited influence on administration policy and has been frustrated.

As mayor of Los Angeles, Riordan was the chief executive who set his own goals. He has nothing like that autonomy as Schwarzenegger’s education secretary; he is one of dozens of aides, political consultants and advisors involved in crafting the governor’s agenda. The secretary of education has little authority. Most state education power is wielded by the elected superintendent of public education and state school board.

“You have a man who was mayor of the second-largest city in America and could do things overnight,” said Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria). “Then he comes up here. It’s got to be a culture shock… This city operates on a more incremental basis”…

Leaders of groups that lobby in Sacramento on education policy say that Riordan’s influence seemed small. When they wanted to reach the administration, they said, their practice was to call Bonnie Reiss, a longtime friend of the governor’s who serves as a senior advisor.

Some involved in last year’s tense negotiations over the education budget said the secretary was conspicuously absent from the talks.

“I would say that he has not been a player,” said Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Assn. “He doesn’t seem to be able to move beyond an L.A. context in his thinking or in his advice, and this is a very varied state.”

A spokesman for the Education Coalition, a group that includes teachers, parents, school board members and others formed to battle the governor’s school finance proposals this year, said Riordan “has basically been AWOL” on state funding and other serious issues confronting California schools…

Some Schwarzenegger aides have privately complained that some of Riordan’s moves created political difficulties. One example was Riordan’s long-standing advocacy of paying teachers based on merit–a proposal that has embroiled Schwarzenegger in a costly fight with teachers unions…

William Ouchi, a UCLA management professor who served as a key advisor during Riordan’s first term as mayor, praised the former mayor as a “heart-on-the-sleeve, never-say-die, give-it-all-you’ve-got and don’t-criticize-other-people kind of guy.”

Ouchi credited Riordan with doing “a great deal to develop the ideas of empowering local schools and of rethinking and simplifying the currently bizarre, baroque way in which the state funds schools, with all kinds of strings attached.

“While he hasn’t had the opportunity to actually put those in place, it is clear that he has succeeded in getting a whole lot of people to take these ideas seriously.”

(5) “Riordan Quitting as Secretary of Education” by Carla Marinucci, Lynda Gledhill, and John M. Hubbell

Source: San Francisco Chronicle – 28 April 2005

Richard Riordan, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s secretary for education, announced his resignation Wednesday as a new poll showed the governor’s approval rating plummeting to an all-time low, largely because voters don’t support his handling of education.

Schwarzenegger’s education policy, backed by Riordan, has faltered this year as the governor has come under intense fire by school officials for reneging on a promise to devote more money to education in the state budget…

The poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that Schwarzenegger’s once-robust support among voters across party lines has eroded to alarming levels, particularly among independents and moderate Democrats. Forty-three percent of registered voters approve of the job Schwarzenegger is doing, while 48 percent disapprove, the poll found.

Even with his low approval ratings, however, the poll shows that many voters agree with the Republican governor’s stated goals to make education the state government’s top priority and to change the teacher tenure system.

But asked whose approach they prefer in fixing the state educational system, 39 percent of likely voters cited “Democrats in the Legislature,” compared to just 25 percent who cited Schwarzenegger’s plans, and 15 percent who favored the approach of the Republicans in the Legislature.

Survey director Mark Baldassare says the governor’s latest poll numbers underscore the increasingly deep worries of residents about the state of education in Democrat-leaning California as the governor pushes plans for a special election later this year.

Baldassare says that while voters have expressed considerable support for some of Schwarzenegger’s proposals, including teacher tenure, merit pay and the concept of a budget spending cap, the polls demonstrate that “the public is concerned about whether or not the governor has an overall plan for education, and what his focus is right now”…

Among the findings of the current poll:

— More than half of the likely voters–55 percent–favor a measure to increase the amount of time required for teacher tenure, but just 44 percent back Schwarzenegger’s plan to limit state spending and change educational funding requirements.

— Asked to specify top priorities in state classrooms, the largest number of adult respondents–14 percent–cited classroom size, followed by curriculum (11 percent), teacher quality (11 percent), student discipline, morals and character, and state and local funding (6 percent each).

— Asked if the quality of K-12 education has improved in the last two years, just 19 percent of California residents agreed. That compares to 31 percent who said the schools improved in January of 2001, under the previous governor, Gray Davis…

— Schwarzenegger’s 51 percent disapproval on educational issues shows a partisan split — with his approve-disapprove rating at 14-69 percent among Democrats, and 50-29 among Republicans. Among independents, 28 percent approve and 50 percent disapprove.

The special statewide poll of 2,502 state voters on education issues and the governor’s performance was taken April 4-17 and released by the Public Policy Institute of California. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points…

Related story:

Schools Secretary Riordan Resigns

Source: Sacramento Bee – 28 April 2005



(1) Education Department Seeks Nominations for “American Stars of Teaching” Program

Source: U.S. Department of Education – 25 April 2005

The U.S. Department of Education again plans to honor classroom teachers by recognizing the 2005 American Stars of Teaching. The Department’s Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative is seeking nominations and information about teachers who are improving student achievement, using innovative strategies, and making a difference in the lives of their students. Teachers across all grade levels and disciplines will be honored this fall. One teacher or team of teachers from each state will be recognized.

Last fall the Department recognized 56 teachers as American Stars in Teaching from such diverse schools as Loma Vista Intermediate School in Riverside, California, and Mesa Elementary in Shiprock, New Mexico. In 2004 honored teachers included Tamara Rhone of Denver, Colorado, whose Advanced Placement classes feature many minority students; Angie Miller of Junction City, Kansas, who raised the math achievement of her middle-schoolers; and chemistry teacher-extraordinaire Doug Worthley of Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

To learn more or nominate a teacher to become an American Star of Teaching, please visit the Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative Web site at: Nomination forms are posted at this site. Additionally, readers may be interested in seeing the profiles of four of last year’s honored teachers from the Department’s Feb. 1 issue of The Achiever, which is posted online at

(2) Speaker Proposal Deadline is May 1 for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Annual Conference

Source: St. Louis Program Committee for the NCTM Annual Conference

The speaker proposal form is available online at The Web site also contains information about types of presentations, criteria for selection of proposals, and answers to frequently asked questions.

The Program Committee encourages proposals that address topics, ideas, issues, and strategies that can contribute to participants’ professional learning, especially:

– Knowing and understanding mathematics more deeply,

– Improving instructional effectiveness to produce results with students, and

– Expanding awareness of crucial or timely issues.

Two areas of particular interest to the Program Committee are equity and assessment. Proposals that focus on instruction, curriculum, professional development and research related to achieving equity in mathematical education (including the influence of racial and class bias on mathematics teaching and learning) are encouraged. In addition, the St. Louis Program Committee will select speakers to address NCTM’s professional development Focus of the Year 2005-2006: Assessing to Learn and Learning to Assess (see