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Wanted: Schools Chief With Zero Experience

Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. John Fryer uses an earthy metaphor to explain why the Los AngelesUnifiedSchool District hired a military man as its next superintendent: Walk around in a cow pasture long enough, he says, and you lose the ability to smell it.  Career educators can become oblivious to the flaws in their schools. 

That thinking animated the decision last week to hire retired Navy Vice Adm. David L. Brewer III as head of the nation's second-largest school system. Brewer's assets include leadership ability, charisma and a resume that is spotlessly clean of any experience running a school district, or even working for one.  "I think the track record's actually been pretty good," said Susan Fuhrman, president of Teachers College in New York. "I think an outside person can bring a fresh perspective and knowledge of running large organizations. You know, as long as they have good people around them who understand curriculum and instruction, they can do very well."

School trustees picked Brewer over four other candidates, all of whom had spent at least parts of their careers in the education establishment. He will succeed Supt. Roy Romer, himself an education outsider who came to the job after three terms as governor of Colorado.

This article appeared in the October 15, 2006 edition of the Times.,0,7273224.story?coll=ktla-news-1

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