You can tell a man by his enemies," says Lance Izumi, Director of Education Studies at the Pacific Research Institute. Education reformers like Mr. Izumi took it as a good sign, then, when the California teachers union representative serving on Arnold Schwarzenegger's transition team resigned immediately after the governor-elect named Richard Riordan as his education secretary.
As mayor of Los Angeles, Mr. Riordan backed reform candidates for the school board, who were able to implement curricular changes such as phonics and direct instructional methods. He supported merit pay for teachers, despite union opposition, and also has backed charter schools, although he is not a fan of vouchers. (Mr. Schwarzenegger opposes vouchers as well.)
The governor-elect has referred to Sacramento as the "schoolyard bully," promising to give local districts greater autonomy with their finances, and has called for the elimination of waste in education funding. Messrs. Schwarzenegger and Riordan both have promoted publicly funded after-school programs, which carry a hefty price tag in a state fraught with financial difficulties. With the state auditor currently conducting a review of education spending, "it will be interesting to see what the governor does when these wasteful practices are revealed," says Mr. Izumi.