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A 2nd Schools Panel Is Named

Times Staff Writer

State schools chief Jack O’Connell on Monday named members of another new panel aimed at improving California’s struggling public education system. The P16 Council seeks better coordination among school levels, from pre-kindergarten through college.

The announcement of the panel by O’Connell, the state superintendent of public instruction, comes days after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger named members of his own advisory committee, led by Occidental College President Theodore R. Mitchell. The governor intends his committee to replace the Quality Education Commission, created in 2002 to analyze the state’s school finance system.

Barry Munitz, president and chief executive of the J. Paul Getty Trust and former California State University chancellor, will head O’Connell’s 44-member council. O’Connell announced in December that he would form the panel and released its membership roster in a telephone news conference Monday.

The two groups have some overlapping members, including San Francisco schools Supt. Arlene Ackerman and former Paramount Studios chief Sherry Lansing, but O’Connell said the panels have different missions.

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The governor’s 15-member committee will spend two years focusing on school finance, governance, and training and retention of teachers and administrators. The superintendent’s council, to convene May 17 and continue indefinitely, will concentrate on improving student achievement.

When the groups’ concerns overlap, O’Connell said he expects his council will “be complementary and working in concert” with the governor, state Education Secretary Richard Riordan and Schwarzenegger’s committee. O’Connell said Munitz and Mitchell are friends who have worked together on education causes through the years.

“This is about improving student achievement at all levels, eliminating the achievement gap [in which blacks and Latinos generally lag behind whites and Asian Americans] and really trying to build a comprehensive, seamless system from preschool to higher education,” Munitz said in an interview Monday.

The state’s schools, while posting gains on standardized tests in recent years, continue to trail much of the rest of the nation in student achievement, per-pupil spending and teacher qualifications, several recent studies have shown. The Republican governor is battling the Democratic-controlled Legislature and education groups over his proposed budget and other issues, including teacher pay.

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Times staff writer Rebecca Trounson contributed to this report.


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