There’s been an ongoing debate as to whether Georgia’s State School Superintendent should be elected or appointed. After all, the Governor appoints the Board which the Super is a member of, and it is that board that sets policy. The budget is set by the legislature, and much of that is a pass through to the local school systems. I like former candidate Kira Willis’ description of the job as most fitting, where she says the position isn’t the CEO of Georgia’s education system, but it’s the HR director. Given the lack of specific authority of the position, does it make sense that voters choose which person is responsible for executing policies set by others, with a budget give to them by the legislature? I raised this question with direct respect to this race a few weeks ago.
Regardless of who is elected tomorrow, there are those in the legislature who want to make either Richard Woods or Valarie Wilson the last elected State School Superintendent. Or at least, the last one elected with this BOE power structure. House Education Subcommittee Chairman Mike Dudgeon has been one working on the idea for a while, and this afternoon via Facebook has left a marker.
One of my priorities for the 2015-2016 legislative term will be to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow appointment of the State School Superintendent and election of the State Board of Education. There are many details on this and possible paths, and I look forward to getting lots of input during the legislative process. I want to get on the record now with my effort, as this is not about who is or is not elected to the position tomorrow, but about good governance. Look for much more on this in the coming weeks.
Let’s be clear about two things. The Georgia Constitution doesn’t allow the legislature to overturn an election. Any super appointed under a new system would receive that appointment after whomever is duly elected tomorrow completes a full term.
Also, this isn’t about giving Governor Deal more power. As this appointment can’t/won’t be made during the next four years, it would presumably be the Governor elected in 2018 that would be the person making or influencing the appointment.
When this idea was floated in 2008 or 2009 I remember writing against it. It’s one of the policy positions I’ve “evolved” on over the years. I still believe that the people should have as much direct say in who governs them where possible. In this case, however, the authority given to the position does not match the accountability of the people. As such, we need to look at finding a way to make those who have the power over control of Georgia’s education system have accountability at the ballot box. As of today, there is not.