Appointed school superintendent worth considering
BY World's Editorials Writers
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
1/15/13 at 3:11 AM
State Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada, is onto to something with her proposed resolution to make the office of state superintendent of public instruction an appointive position rather than an elective office.
Harkening back to its populist roots, Oklahoma has several elective state offices that really should be gubernatorial appointments - labor and insurance commissioners, to name two others.
None of these offices should be political - especially the superintendent job. It has become a lightning rod for controversy during the two years that the current superintendent, Janet Barresi, has held it. Barresi, a dentist, has had a tin ear toward the needs of public education at a time when districts are struggling mightily to pay the bills.
Paddack lost to Barresi in the 2010 general election but she contends her resolution - a proposed constitutional amendment making the office appointive with consent of the Senate - is not sour grapes.
Even if it were, the idea is still worth considering. It's likely that Paddack, a Democrat, won't get far with her proposal in the Republicans-dominated Legislature. What Paddack needs to do is figure out a way to let Republicans take credit for the idea.
General dissatisfaction with Barresi exists among educators, much of the public and even among Republican lawmakers, who are keen to increase the governor's powers.
The head of public instruction is appointive in most states. Governors are able to tap people with the qualifications and desire to better public education.
Republicans would do well to begin a public discussion on what could be an important reform. Taking politics our of education governance - to the extent possible - is a laudable goal.
Original Print Headline: Worth considering