Proposed measure would depoliticize Oklahoma superintendent office
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Monday, January 14, 2013
1/14/13 at 7:29 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Legislation to make the office of state superintendent of public instruction an appointive rather than elective office has been filed for the upcoming session.
State Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada, who lost to current state Superintendent Janet Barresi in the 2010 general election, offered Senate Joint Resolution 6 last week, a proposed constitutional amendment making the office subject to appointment by the governor with the consent of the Senate.
"This is something I've looked at for a long time," Paddack said. "The state superintendent is such an important position, it shouldn't be political."
Paddack said the proposed amendment is not connected to the 2010 election.
"This has nothing to do with sour grapes," she said. "If I would have done this right after the election, you might make that case. It's not something that hasn't been discussed for a long time."
Barresi, an Oklahoma City dentist who became involved in the charter school movement, promised to bring change to the state Department of Education, and has. But the change and Barresi's sometimes aggressive style have not gone down well with some legislators and many educators.
Barresi declined to comment on Paddack's resolution.
The bill faces an uncertain future at best. Republicans hold large majorities in both chambers, which would seem to make consideration, much less passage, a difficult task.
But dissatisfaction with Barresi, even among Republicans, and the GOP's desire to consolidate power in the governor's office, make for an interesting proposition. Another bill, authored by Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, would remove the state superintendent from the state vocational technical education board while adding two state regents for higher education.
"When the session begins, I'm always filled with optimism," Paddack said when asked about the proposal's chances.
It's not clear, though, if the measure would affect a second term for Barresi.
Even if the amendment is adopted by the Legislature, it probably would not be voted on by the people until the next general election. The office of state superintendent will be on the ballot in that same election.
The Legislature could call for a special election, but that would require a two-thirds vote of both the House and the Senate.
Original Print Headline: Bill would make state school chief appointive
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Susan Paddack: She said her bill is not connected to her 2010 loss to state Superintendent Janet Barresi.
Janet Barresi: A bill proposes to make her job elective no more.