Oceanside schools chief is named
to state board
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
April 22, 2005
By Sherry Parmet
OCEANSIDE – Oceanside schools Superintendent Ken Noonan was appointed by Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger yesterday to the state Board of Education. Though it is a
highly sought-after position, the governor's office courted Noonan for one of
three vacant seats. He was asked to apply and then flown to Sacramento for an
interview a few days later.
The state Board of Education sets policy for more than 6 million
kindergarten-through-12th-grade students enrolled in public education. That
policy includes adopting textbooks, establishing state academic content
standards in the core subjects and approving a statewide testing program.
Noonan, 64, will continue as superintendent of Oceanside Unified while he serves
on the 11-member state board.
Noonan was tapped for several reasons. Under his leadership in Oceanside, test
scores have soared, the achievement gap between white students and minorities
has narrowed, and a $125 million school construction bond was passed.
"It's such a sought-after position, and to choose our superintendent to
participate in guiding the policies and the standards of education in the state
of California is just a tremendous compliment to the leadership of Ken Noonan
and the strides the district has made," said school board member Janet Bledsoe
Lacy. "This recognized the talent that we in Oceanside have long been
In 1999, no Oceanside school had reached the state's goal of 800 on the Academic
Performance Index, which assigns schools a score between 200 and 1000 based on
test scores. This year, five schools exceeded that benchmark, and the number of
schools surpassing 700 since 1999 quadrupled to 16.
Noonan thrust Oceanside Unified into the spotlight with his implementation of
Proposition 227, a voter initiative that largely dismantled bilingual education.
Many districts continued to offer bilingual instruction to students who
submitted waivers. But Oceanside Unified denied most waviers. And the test
scores of English learners showed immediate improvement in the first couple of
years after the switch to English-only instruction.
Noonan and administrators of El Camino High School were among representatives of
four schools nationwide recently invited by the U.S. Department of Education to
explain to an educational task force in Washington, D.C., how they closed the
In 2003, Noonan was named Superintendent of the Year by the Association of
California School Administrators.
Noonan's educational career spans nearly 40 years; he began as a high school
teacher in Montebello. He later became a director of a bilingual education
program in Pomona. He was superintendent of the Corcoran Unified School District
in California's Central Valley for six years and superintendent of Gilroy
Unified School District in Santa Clara County for 13 years before coming to
Oceanside in 1997.
"Ken has the focus and the common sense that other education leaders don't
always possess," said trustee Emily Wichmann.
Noonan's new post will pay $100 per meeting, and his term is for four years.
Noonan could not be reached yesterday because he was returning from a vacation
A second appointee to the state Board of Education is Yvonne Chan, principal of
Vaughn Next Century Learning Center in Los Angeles. One vacancy on the state
education board remains.