The Secretary of Education holds no policy-making authority — that’s vested in the state Department of Education, headed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell — but instead serves as the governor’s main education advisor. The first person to hold the post, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, resigned in April 2005 as polls showed the governor’s popularity plummeting in large part due to his handling of education. Alan Bersin held the job from July 2005 through December 2006, and Scott Himelstein has been the acting secretary since January.
“David will add tremendous knowledge and skill to our great education team and I know he will work in a bipartisan effort to make sure our kids come out on top,” the governor said in a news release. “I am excited to work with David on improving student achievement, bringing up low-performing schools, hiring and keeping quality teachers, building new facilities, promoting career tech, increasing accountability and helping kids pass the high school exit exam.”
Long, 67, has been the Riverside County superintendent since 1999, overseeing 23 school districts and more than 400,000 students. Before that, he was the Lake Elsinore Unified School District’s superintendent from 1992 to 1999 and held the same position with the Banning Unified School District from 1989 to 1992.
Earlier yet, Long was assistant superintendent for Mason City Community Schools in Mason City, Iowa from 1987 to 1989 and principal of Roosevelt Middle School from 1985 to 1987. He also served as associate principal for Mason City High School from 1982 to 1985. Long began his teaching career in 1961 as an instructor at Sheffield High School in Sheffield, Iowa where he also was the athletic director and coach for several of the School’s sports teams.
“I am privileged to be able to continue to serve the many students of California through this new position as secretary of education,” Long said in the release. “I look forward to working with the Governor to ensure every Californian receives the best possible education and every teacher and faculty member is provided the tools and resources needed to make that happen.”
Long, a Republican from Canyon Lake, earned a Doctorate degree in educational administration from Iowa State University, a Masters degree in physical education from Missouri State College and a Bachelor of Arts degree in physical education from the University of Northern Iowa. The job doesn’t require Senate confirmation and pays $175,000 per year.