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California and the West

Davis Selects Panel to Focus on Education

Schools: Governor-elect seeks improved performance in what is called top issue.


Two teachers union presidents, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, an Inglewood elementary school principal and one of the state's most influential business leaders were among a group Gov.-elect Gray Davis named Thursday to tackle what he calls job one: education reform.

The 13-member panel, Davis said in a news release, will develop policies intended to improve performance in the nation's largest systems of public education.

"For too long, California has simply not expected enough from its schools," Davis said. "By the end of my first term, I believe we can lift the performance, possibilities and promise of every child."

Moving quickly on an issue voters rated No. 1 during his campaign, Davis has said he intends to call a special session of the Legislature to pass urgent education bills as soon as he takes office in January.

Those chosen Thursday reflected the transition of power in Sacramento to a Democratic administration after 16 years of Republican control of the governor's office.

On the list were at least two individuals whom departing Republican Gov. Pete Wilson called enemies of school reform: Lois Tinson, president of the California Teachers Assn., the state's largest teachers union; and Mary Bergan, president of the California Federation of Teachers, the second largest.

Bergan said Davis had given the group "a pretty daunting task"--namely, to develop proposals to raise student achievement. Bergan said she would push to increase state programs to help students in jeopardy of falling behind.

"I don't think we really have a good intervention system in place," Bergan said. "Teachers work hard not to let kids fall through the cracks, but it's difficult."

Others named to the panel were:

Reed Hastings, a Silicon Valley businessman who this year helped push the state to expand publicly funded charter schools; Nancy Ichinaga, principal of Bennett/Kew Elementary School in Inglewood, which is known for a back-to-basics reading program; Eli Broad, the head of SunAmerica and a member of the California Business Roundtable; Gary K. Hart, a former state senator; Richard C. Atkinson, president of the University of California; Alan Bersin, the superintendent of San Diego city schools and former Clinton administration "border czar"; Cecil Lytle, a professor at UC San Diego; William Crist, a professor at Cal State Stanislaus; Roland Arnall, a former trustee of California State University; Bobbie Metzger, a communications official for Cal State; and Marlene Garcia, education director for the state Senate Research Office.

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