Schwarzenegger’s Education Cabinet Secretary to Step Down
Veteran educator Glen W. Thomas is resigning as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s education cabinet secretary in order to care for his ailing mother.
Schwarzenegger appointed Thomas, 63, to the post – the primary education advisor to the governor — in January 2009. The date of Thomas’ departure has yet to be set.
“It has been a pleasure and a privilege to be Secretary of Education,” Thomas said. “With the governor’s leadership, we accomplished a lot more than some people thought possible. Things like Race to the Top and digital textbooks.”
A triumvirate of entities shape public school policy in the state: the State Board of Education, the Superintendent of Public Instruction and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the governor’s education cabinet secretary.
Previously, in the Schwarzenegger administration and previous administrations there has been friction between the three entities. One of Thomas’ goals was to create a more collaborative relationship.
The cabinet secretary also helps shape the administration’s education policy and analyzes more than 300 pieces of education-related legislation each year.
In explaining his departure, Thomas said:
“My 96-year-old mother is not well. Twenty-four years ago I cared for my father and I told my mother that when the time came I would do the same for her. It’s been the highest honor to serve in the administration but family is always first priority.”
John Mockler, a former education cabinet secretary under Gov. Gray Davis who has worked with — and sometimes against — Thomas for several decades described him as “an honorable professional.”
A native Californian, Thomas is a former classroom teacher. He has also been a local school administrator and worked at the state Department of Education in a variety of posts including executive director of the State Curriculum Commission. He also helped develop the High School Exit Exam.
“Parents are students’ first and foremost teachers and therefore full partners in their children’s education,” Thomas’ biography says.
Over 30 years in the field of education, Thomas has advocated for better teacher preparation, stricter accountability to measure both teacher and pupil success and stronger academic content.
A supporter of expanding preschool, thomas co-chaired Senate president Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg’s committee to help improve the quality of early learning programs. He has also pushed for the expansion of vocational training.
Thomas’ teaching career began working with children of migrant farm laborers in the Central Valley.
For more than eight years, Thomas served as executive director of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association, which represents the interests of the state’s 58 county superintendents of schools.
Thomas’ wife, Connie, is a Sacramento elementary school teacher. His two daughters are products of the state’s public school system.
Thomas is Schwarzenegger’s fourth education cabinet secretary. He replaced Dave Long.
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