Governor’s Wife Takes CSUN Tour : Education: Gayle Wilson observes teacher-training program. About 75 stage a protest over her husband’s policies.


California First Lady Gayle Wilson was no slouch in the classroom in her day, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in biology from Stanford University the same year Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act. But even that prestigious credential didn’t help her much Tuesday during a tour at Cal State Northridge.

In her second-ever visit to CSUN, the wife of Gov. Pete Wilson spent about 45 minutes observing a program that trains high school math teachers in the latest high-tech instructional methods. She came away impressed--and admitting that classroom technology has passed her by.

“I’m the first one to tell you I’m a computer illiterate,” the governor’s wife conceded to a group of high school teachers and their students. Recalling her 1960-64 tenure at Stanford, she added: “It isn’t anything like what I was using when I was in college.”


Outside the classroom, Wilson also met with CSUN President Blenda Wilson and toured the university’s new business/education complex. But each time she ventured outside, the governor’s wife was heckled by about 75 students opposed to her husband’s stand against illegal immigrants and affirmative action.

“We just wanted to give her a message to give to her husband,” said junior Enrique Castrejon, a leader of the protest. “We’re not going to take it lying down. We will do whatever we can to keep on fighting.

“We are angry,” Castrejon said, “. . . at her husband’s efforts to discriminate against us.”

The demonstration by CSUN Latino students was peaceful, and aides to the governor, who has become a frequent target of such protests, tried to make the best of it.

“Can you imagine if it was the governor? It would have been thousands,” said Lisa Wolf, a gubernatorial spokeswoman.

Aides said the state’s First Lady and the governor, seeking to keep alive his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, both spent the day in the Los Angeles area. Wilson himself has never made a formal appearance at CSUN, although he toured the area after the Northridge earthquake. Gayle Wilson last visited the campus’s National Center on Deafness six or seven years ago when her husband was still a U.S. senator, aides said.


On Tuesday, Gayle Wilson watched four students from Granada Hills High School use Macintosh computers to help solve geometry equations. Later, she was tutored by three students from Verdugo Hills High School in Tujunga on how to use graphing calculators in algebra.

“This is fascinating. I think I need one of these. But I can’t think what I need it for,” the governor’s wife joked of the popular $90 calculators, which display graphics.

“Believe it or not, in [my] high school, we were still using slide rules,” she said.

CSUN instructors are training about 80 Southern California high school math teachers in both approaches in the so-called Viz-Math program. CSUN’s Teacher Institute for Using Computer Visualizations for Teaching Mathematics is being supported by a $1-million grant from the National Science Foundation.

Linda Huetinck, associate professor of secondary education and director of the CSUN program, acknowledged that both high school student presentations were specially arranged for the governor’s wife. Normally, the CSUN program just involves high school teachers training for master’s degrees.

After the tour, Gayle Wilson called technology an aid, but not a solution to students’ problems with math.

“I object to someone who literally cannot add two numbers together unless they have their calculator,” she said, quickly adding of the high school students she met Tuesday, “That is not the case here.”