Gov. Brown Names Former LBUSD Superintendent Carl Cohn To State Board of Education

(Jan. 5, 2011) -- [4:55 p.m. update] Comment from LBUSD Superintendent Chris Steinhauser: "Educators throughout the nation continue to seek Carl Cohnís advice because of his lasting and positive impact upon schools in Long Beach and elsewhere. Itís good to know that weíll have someone on the state board who has a keen understanding of the challenges facing urban education. Weíre delighted, and we congratulate our friend and colleague." [end update] breaks the story that newly inaugurated Gov. Jerry Brown has nominated former LBUSD Superintendent Dr. Carl Cohn (Ed.D) as one of seven new members of the state Board of Education.

Cohn is a professor and co-director of the Urban Leadership Program at Claremont Graduate University, and served as Superintendent of the San Diego School District after his tenure in LB.

Dr. Cohn is perhaps best known locally for instituting school uniforms in the LB Unified School District. Dr. Cohn retired in 2002 but was hired to run the San Diego Unified School District in 2005, until he left that position in 2008. The Claremont Graduate University's School of Educational Studies' website has this biographical sketch of Dr. Cohn:

Carl A. Cohn is Co-Director of the Urban Leadership Program and Clinical Professor in the School of Educational Studies at Claremont Graduate University. Dr. Cohnís distinguished career in education has spanned over thirty years. Throughout this time, he has worked in a variety of educational capacities; such as a teacher, counselor, professor, superintendent and Federal Court monitor. Earning his Ed.D in Administrative and Policy Studies from the University of California Los Angeles, Dr. Cohn has personified the valuable role of a research practitioner, expanding the field of education in a variety of ways.

Dr. Cohn played a pivotal role during his career in the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD). Focusing on urban affairs and educational policy, he served as an Administrative Coordinator, Director of Attendance, and Superintendent from 1992-2002. In 2000, Dr. Cohn was Americaís longest serving urban superintendent and during this tenure he made the school district a model for high academic standards and accountability.

During his tenure as Superintendent, the LBUSD achieved record attendance, the lowest rate of suspension in a decade, decreases in student failure and dropout rates, and an increase in the number of students taking college preparatory classes. Through exemplifying this commitment to leadership and improved student achievement, he won the McGraw Prize in 2002, and the district won the Broad Prize in 2003.

In 2002, Dr. Cohn served as Clinical Professor for the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California and went on to become an Independent Court Monitor for the Los Angeles Federal District Court. From 2005-2007, Dr. Cohn served as the Superintendent of San Diego Unified School District and recently served as a Leader in Residence at the College of Education at San Diego State University before joining the Claremont Graduate University faculty.

Further utilizing his expertise, Dr. Cohn has worked as a faculty advisor for both the Broad Superintendents Academy and the Harvard Urban Superintendents Program. Currently, he serves on the boards of the American College Testing, Inc. (ACT), the Freedom Writers Foundation, the Western Governors University and EdSource.

Among his many publications and research projects, Dr. Cohn co-edited the 2004 Teachers College Press publication, Partnering to Lead Educational Renewal: High Quality Teachers, High Quality Schools.

The State Board of Education (SBE) is the governing/policy-making body of the California Department of Education. Its website notes that it sets K-12 education policy regarding standards, instructional materials, assessment and accountability; adopts textbooks for grades K-8, adopts regulations to implement legislation, and has authority to grant waivers of the Education Code.

The State Board of Education has 11 members, appointed by the Governor, and they require state Senate confirmation.

One of Governor Brown's other School Board appointees has raised eyebrows, writes's Torey Van Oot (who broke the story): Former CA Superintendent of Public Instruction Bill Honig, who resigned from that position in 1993 after a felony conviction on conflict of interest charges that were later reduced to misdemeanors. He is now president of the "Consortium on Reading Excellence."

Ms. Van Oot also notes that Gov. Brown's appointments will result in the loss of a state school board member who supported a "parental trigger" law (that lets parents require a school district to implement reforms at a school that fails to meet progress benchmarks), whom the new Governor proposes to replace with the legislative advocate for the CA Teachers Association (which opposed the "parental trigger law.". welcomes your comments below on Gov. Brown's choice of Dr. Cohn for a place on the State Board of Education.

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