Proposed bill would make new, appointed position to run Department of Education

Jan 10, 2013

The Co-Chairmen of the legislature's Joint Education Committee are sponsoring legislation to create an appointed, Cabinet-level position to administer the Department of Education. The bill would allow the Governor to appoint a director for the Education Department. It would not eliminate the superintendent position, but modify the position’s responsibilities and lessen its power. The legislature comes after tense discussions in the Capitol about Superintendent Cindy Hill’s effectiveness in her position.

But Co-sponsor Representative, Matt Teeters, says this is an old problem.

“In 2005 we had an LSO audit report done that indicated that we really should take a look at putting these responsibilities under a Cabinet level position. My point is that this is really not about a personality issue between a legislature and a superintendent. This is about a deeper structural problem that we’ve had with the system that dates way back.”

Teeters says that most states have moved away from an elected superintendent position to an appointed one due to the complexity of growing school systems.

But Superintendent Cindy Hill says the bill, if passed, would make the chief school officer in the state less accountable.

“As an appointee you answer to the person who appointed you, you do not answer to the people. I always knew when I was making significant changes who I was responsible to and I knew those voices that I was listening to, and it wasn’t just one, the one who appointed me.”

The Senate Education Committee will consider the bill first.