The first rule of combat is to avoid cross-fire. But the newly appointed Los Angeles superintendent, retired Navy Vice Admiral David L. Brewer III, already finds himself squarely in the middle of it. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who recently gained partial control of the city's schools, wasted no time in expressing his displeasure at not being consulted before the school board hired Brewer (nor called by the candidate before he took the job). The admiral is another in a lengthening line of ex-military personnel with no experience in education hired to run school districts. To date, their record is mixed. (Colonel John O'Sullivan resigned earlier this year as leader of a suburban Minneapolis school district. It's reported he alienated people because he insisted on being called "colonel.") But the LA Times reminds its readers that "the same could be said of any number of traditional educators who rose to the top and crashed. And some of the nontraditional superintendents have won high praise." True enough, though the successful ones also demonstrated political acumen; Brewer isn't off to a great start on that count. It's not too late, though. Hire some good deputies, admiral, and stick with "Superintendent Brewer."
"Wanted: Schools Chief With Zero Experience," by Mitchell Landsberg, Los Angeles Times, October 15, 2006
"Ex-Admiral Is Named New Schools Chief," by Joel Rubin and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2006