Tuesday, March 30, 2010


By John Fensterwald | The Educated Guess 

March 29th, 2010 -- Gov. Schwarzenegger isn’t backing down from nominating reform advocates and charter school supporters to the State Board of Education.

On Monday, Schwarzenegger announced three nominations to the 11-member board. Two – Ben Austin and Alan Arkatov – are charter advocates. Arkatov is a board member of the Alliance for College Ready Public Schools, which runs 16 highly-respected  charter schools in Los Angeles, although that’s just one of his roles. He is well-connected in Los Angeles Unified and served as president of  eEducation Group earlier in the decade  and was founder and chairman of OnlineLearning.net before that.

As executive director of the Los Angeles Parents Union and Parents Revolution, Austin was a force behind the “parent trigger” that the Legislature adopted in its Race to the Top legislation in January. It empowers a majority of parents at low-performing schools to petition their local school board for a change in their school’s leadership and governance, including conversion to a charter school. Austin was a consultant at Green Dot Public Schools, a charter organization in Los Angeles, before that.

Austin and Arkatov would replace Jorge Lopez, executive of an Oakland charter school, and Rae Belisle, former CEO of EdVoice and an advocate for minority kids. Both had faced uphill renomination battles in the state Senate. Lopez resigned from the state board in February. Schwarzenegger withdrew Belisle’s nomination  earlier this month amid opposition from the California Schools Boards Association and the Association of California School Administrators.

Schwarenegger also nominated Jeannie Oropeza, the program budget manager for the California Department of Finance since 1998. Before that, she was an education budget consultant for the California State Assembly and staff finance budget analyst in the mid-1990s.

Schwarzenegger has also renominated David Lopez, president of Hispanic National University in San Jose, and a board member since 2006, and board President Ted Mitchell, former president of Occidental College and currently CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit that underwrites charter schools and other public school reforms in urban areas nationwide.

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