L.A.'s new deputy superintendent wants to focus on dropouts

April 10, 2008
Ramon Cortines sets out his priorities

Ramon C. Cortines, the new senior deputy superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District, says that dealing with the system's alarmingly high dropout rate should be a higher priority than test scores. Cortines, 75, says he will revisit the phonics-based reading program he helped install eight years ago, work to shrink and decentralize the district's much-criticized bureaucracy, improve science and arts instruction, and increase student access to college-prep classes.
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EARLIER: Veteran educator Ramon Cortines has accepted a job as senior deputy superintendent in the Los Angeles Unified School District's No. 2 position. Cortines, 75, formerly headed the New York City school system and spent much of his career leading school districts in California, including L.A. Unified on an interim basis eight years ago.
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Facing mounting internal and external pressure, Los Angeles schools Supt. David L. Brewer has discussed offering a job to veteran educator Ramon C. Cortines. He is an education advisor to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and formerly headed the school systems in New York City and, briefly, Los Angeles. If an agreement could be reached, Cortines, 75, probably would join the Los Angeles Unified School District in the long-vacant post of deputy superintendent. He would report directly to Brewer, a retired Navy vice admiral who became the schools chief 17 months ago with no prior public school executive experience.
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FROM OCTOBER 2007: Self-assured and eloquent, Los Angeles School Superintendent David Brewer, in his first 11 months, has made clear his belief in his own ability to bring fundamental progress, or "transformation," as he puts it, to a deeply inefficient and bureaucratic district. But critics and supporters worry that the 61-year-old retired Navy admiral, who has no experience in public education, has not yet altered much of anything. They fear he will -- or already has -- become a prisoner of politics and bureaucracy, rather than a liberator of ideas and a change agent. (Los Angeles Times)

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