We don’t agree with Gov. Kevin Stitt that the state superintendent of schools should be an appointed office.
If such a proposed change in the state Constitution is put before state voters, we’d urge them to reject it, and suspect they would.
Stitt told The Oklahoman that he has been frustrated by his limited ability to affect education policy as governor.
If he or his appointees on the state school board hired the superintendent, he’d certainly have more control over state public school policy, which would make sense if voters didn’t understand the office or had a history of electing clunkers.
But our perception is that voters are engaged in the process. They have a decent idea of the superintendent’s job and understand the critical differences among the candidates. With exceptions, they have chosen excellent chief state education officers. With no slight intended to Stitt, we’d say that their track record there is as good as it is for electing governors.
If the governor wants to reshuffle the state ballot, we’d suggest he ask voters to do away with the elective offices of state insurance and labor commissioners. Those offices are not well suited to the elective process, primarily because voters have little idea of the commissioners’ duties or the candidates’ qualifications. Currently, two excellent incumbents hold the posts, but we’ve had some real doozies in the past.
If we’re going to stop electing state superintendents, this is an appropriate moment. Reelected in 2018, Superintendent Joy Hofmeister must leave the office in three years because of term limits. But we don’t think voters would or should want to give up the power to elect her successor.
With veto power over state legislation, a great deal of power in shaping the state budget and the authority to appoint six of the seven members of the state school board, Stitt has enormous authority to shape state school policy. He should leave the superintendent’s office to the voters.