Pasadena Picks L.A. Official to Head Its Schools

Times Staff Writer

Phillip B. Jordan, a regional administrator in the Los Angeles Unified School District, has been named superintendent of the Pasadena Unified School District.

Jordan will leave his position as superintendent of administration for Region C of the Los Angeles district to take over the Pasadena post on Feb. 18.

He was among 100 applicants and six finalists for the job that was vacated last May by 11-year veteran Supt. Ramon C. Cortines.

In Region C, which includes the poor and minorities of the inner city and the middle-class Anglo residents of Westchester, Jordan was responsible for raising achievement scores across the board, said Pasadena board President Kathryn Nack.

Jordan, 53, called Pasadena, with its approximately 70% minority enrollment and wide span of economic levels, "a microcosm of Los Angeles." Pasadena has 23,470 students, fewer than half the number Jordan supervised in Los Angeles. Jordan's salary will increase from about $72,000 a year in Los Angeles to $75,000 in Pasadena. Cortines' salary when he left was $61,800.

Nack said Jordan was chosen for the Pasadena job because he has shown the ability to improve education for a broad spectrum of students. She cited his role in upgrading academic standards at Bret Harte Middle School and Washington High School, which had the lowest academic ratings in Los Angeles. Nack called both schools "lighthouses for the rest of the country" as a result of Jordan's five-year leadership.

Jordan said that during his tenure, which began in 1980, third and fifth grade students in his region showed a 70% increase in achievement, while eighth grade performance rose 17% in reading and 32% in math. Bret Harte's math scores alone were within 3% of the national average last year, after being what Jordan called "the No. 1 poverty school in the district three years ago.".

Jordan said the improvements were the result of "a change of philosophy from subject-oriented to student-oriented, and protecting the middle school kid a little by giving him two teachers instead of six. I also made good guesses in choosing principals."

He said his goals in Pasadena are to improve pupil performance, provide safe and aesthetically attractive schools, build staff morale, improve communication at all levels and increase legislative support of schools.

In his new post, Jordan said, he will have an added advantage in being a 28-year resident of Pasadena. He and his wife, Marilyn, live in the San Rafael area and their three children graduated from public schools.

Jordan said his children were among thousands of students who were bused to achieve court-ordered desegregation for more than a decade in Pasadena. The court order was lifted three years ago, but Pasadena still buses many students to balance races and relieve overcrowding in inner-city schools.

The Board of Education will change after a March 4 school board election, when new members will be elected to fill seats being vacated by veterans Marjorie K. Wyatt and Henry S. Myers. But Jordan said he is not concerned about working with new board members.

"I have found that anyone who is willing to give the time and effort and is committed to opportunities for young people will be likely to share my goals," he said.

He said salary negotiation is the only area of administration with which he is unfamiliar.

Jordan was educated at Occidental College, California State University, Los Angeles, Mt. St. Mary's College and Pepperdine University. He started as a teacher in Los Angeles in 1955.

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