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David Long Steps Down as Secretary of Education

By Jeff Hudson - September 12, 2008

David Long, California’s Secretary of Education since March 2007, has resigned.

Long wrote a letter of resignation to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger dated Wednesday, and the news became public late Thursday afternoon.

In his three-paragraph letter, Long said “After much contemplation and reflection, I have come to the conclusion that it is time for me to move on to another chapter in my life. I will continue to surge ahead with my passion for creative solutions to better serve our students in low performing schools, and strive to promote what is best for the education of all the children in our state.”

Long’s resignation caught many by surprise. At the time Long was appointed, less than two years ago, Gov. Schwarzenegger hailed him as a veteran educator who would be an agent of change.

A Republican, Long had served as Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, overseeing 23 school districts and more than 400,000 students. Long had received various statewide honors. He was 67-years-old at the time he was appointed as Secretary of Education.

“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,” said Governor Schwarzenegger in March 2007.  “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.”

However, 2008 began with the jarring news that California’s state budget deficit was much worse than expected, and the financial outlook for the state budget – and the California Department of Education – only became bleaker as the year progressed. Currently, the state budget is more than 70 days overdue, and school districts up and down the state are bracing for possible budget cuts.

Long was the fourth Secretary of Education during Schwarzenegger’s five years as governor. Predecessors were Richard Riordan, Alan Bersin and Scott Himelstein.

California has a unique arrangement for oversight of public education, with a State Board of Education (appointed by the Governor), a State Superintendent of Public Instruction (elected by California’s voters), and a Secretary of Education (appointed by the Governor).

Editor's Note: Jeff Hudson is the editor of EdBrief and an award-winning education reporter and writer in print, radio and television media.