I see that Richard Riordan, not content with being the new secretary of education, also wants to be president of the State Board of Education (Nov. 20). As a teacher, I'm just curious: Why would we want someone with absolutely no experience in a classroom occupying not just one, but two, significant positions?
Lots of people have opinions about education; plenty of academics study it, in varying degrees of depth. But it seems to me that part of the problem we face at the state and local levels is that a lot of policy is made up by bureaucrats and politicians who haven't had any experience where it counts: in a classroom. That's one reason why, for teachers, so many "top-down" decisions by state and local officials come across as arbitrary, unrealistic and wrongheaded.
I realize that under any administration, there are lots of positions that are just political window dressing or covers for political opportunism, but I would think that the new governor, who professes a concern for education, would put someone in charge who has had the bedrock experience necessary to do the job.
What's wrong with this picture? A man who couldn't handle one city's educational reform now wants even more responsibility and power. Riordan says, "I've had really top people tell me it's a great idea." Define "top." Campaign fund contributors? His buddies whom he invites to his Brentwood house to have a meeting? Why not ask some of the parents of the L.A. Unified School District if it's a great idea? I'm sure they'd give Riordan some better advice: retire.