Beth Shuster is education editor of the Los Angeles Times. Before moderating a panel on the future of school discipline, she named her favorite freeway, explained why her most frequently used phrase is a question, and offered up the education story she’d most love to break in the Zócalo green room.
What word or phrase do you use most often?
I don’t want to say a swear word. [Laughs.] And I don’t think I use a swear word very often. I’m a pretty upbeat person, so I probably say things like, “That’s great.” Or, “What’s going on?” I just kind of engage people. I ask a lot of questions since I’m a former reporter, so it might be something like that. “How’s it going?” “What are you up to?”
What is your fondest childhood memory?
Probably when I was in fourth grade, and it was Christmas day and we were in Bali, Indonesia, swimming. My parents are from the East Coast, and I was born on the East Coast, and it was a big deal that it was December 25 and it was so warm and we were in the ocean. And it was a fantastic day in a very unusual place.
If you didn’t live in L.A., where would you be?
Rome, London, or Hawaii.
What superpower would you most like to have?
I would like to be able to fly, so that I could avoid all airports, particularly LAX, and get places faster.
Spicy, medium, or mild?
Where do you go to be alone?
I go to the gym, or I go for a walk.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
My Kindle, and in my Kindle is a book called Someone by Alice McDermott, which I’m just finishing.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
To follow my instincts and trust my instincts. And I really believe that.
Do you have a favorite freeway?
I like the portion of the 101—the Ventura Freeway—between Ventura and Carpinteria, where you’re going by the ocean. That would be my favorite one.
What education story would you dream of breaking?
It would definitely be a student story. Maybe a student who becomes the secretary of education—a story that’s really a narrative about a student who becomes something great, or something great that happens to that student.