The Senate Education Committee quickly passed a bill that would create a governor-appointed director position for the education department, and reduce the powers of the current state superintendent.
Committee Chairman Senator Hank Coe says tension between the Legislature, Superintendent, the Department of Education, and the State Board has been going on since 1985 and it was time to fix it.
"Oversight of education is the charge of the Legislature,” says Coe. “The public deserves an agency and an educational system that is responsive to its wishes and allows for the continuous improvement of our children and their education."
The committee unanimously voted to pass the bill with no debate. Superintendent Cindy Hill said that if the committee wanted people to believe that it wasn’t a personal attack but rather a strategy to correct a struggling Education system, then the approach should be different.
"I suggest that if you really want to deprive the people of a vote for Superintendent, then be direct about it,” says Hill. “Do it correctly – simply remove the office by amending the Constitution."
If the bill is signed into law, the Department of Education should have a new director by December first of this year. The full Senate could debate the bill next week.