Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Former SF Superintendent helping to put humpty dumpty - LAUSD, Mayor Villaraigosa, UTLA and LA school board - back together again

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comI have always liked Ray Cortines. As Superintendent of San Francisco Schools in the 80's his open door policies, firm handshakes, warm smile and uncanny ability to find the common ground between competing interest groups were refreshing. More recently he has also been very helpful to me while I served as the President of the San Francisco Board of Education and over the past couple of years advising me about labor conflicts, superintendent searches [including how to deal with difficult personalities], and meaningful outreach to business and community groups. And, he's going to need all those skills to heal the rift in LA now. But it seems to me, no one is better equipped than Ray to help put humpty dumpty back together again as top education advisor to LA Mayor Villaraigosa.

From this morning's LA Times - Ray Cortines Begins Stint as Education Advisor to L.A. Mayor
...Ramon C. Cortines is back, starting today, in a different role, as the top education advisor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. And once again, the fit, self-assured 74-year-old educator is striding into conflict, this time over Villaraigosa's bid for substantial authority over L.A.'s public schools.
Cortines' current message is about rhetorical disarmament and an agenda far more ambitious than books and bathrooms."It is important that a working dialogue is created between the school district and the unions and the mayor's office" — regardless of whether the mayor gets new powers, Cortines said in an interview Monday.
In other words, Villaraigosa may choose to bash the school district as a failing institution — especially if that's what's needed to win the political battle over control — but Cortines will play the role of good cop. That includes a meeting today with schools Supt. Roy Romer, who has chastised the mayor for saying the district is failing.
Cortines' approach is a model of consistency. In 2000, he also played peacemaker, refusing to become interim superintendent without the OK of outgoing Supt. Ruben Zacarias, who had just been dumped by a slim school board majority. Cortines also set to work immediately on knitting together a fractious school board.

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