Regardless of Election, Discussion To Appoint School Super Will Proceed

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.

22 comments

  1. Daniel N. Adams says:

    Especially if a True local control, pro school choice and fiscal conservative ever gets elected.

    • BuddyFreeze says:

      Pro Abortion, Pro Common Core Zealots, Teachers unions every far far faaaaaaaaaaaaar left group is behind Valarie Wilson and against Richard Woods.

      • Will Durant says:

        Yanno, I have yet to meet a “Pro Common Core Zealot” but on the flip side…

        And what does abortion have to do with the price of rice in China?

        • BuddyFreeze says:

          Top baby killing left wing democrat groups are spending lots of money to get rid of Richard Woods.

            • BuddyFreeze says:

              No Mr. Snooty Elitist. I’m one of the 2 million voters in Georgia who voted Richard Woods and completely destroyed your common core darling. I must be one of the Zealots 🙂

                • WeymanCWannamakerJr says:

                  Having seen the Common Core Standards demonized several different ways this was the first time I’ve seen them linked to ‘baby killing’. Excuse me, I thought you were a different nut.

  2. Cowabunga says:

    Some good concepts but I wouldn’t put a half eaten steak in front of this governor. He has time and again violated the public trust and his republican are complicit due to their silence and their endorsement of this corruption.

  3. Dave Bearse says:

    Perhaps a School Board that is a combination of appointees and elected members. I think the Superintendent should be appointed by the Board.

  4. Edward Lindsey says:

    The proposal makes a great deal of sense and will cut down the end games different governors — Republican and Democrat — have had to use to circumvent the Education Superintendent on needed education reform. Regardless of your partisan beliefs, it important for the governor and the head of the Education Department to be on the same page given the size of the K-12 budget. To ensure checks and balances, a role in the selection of superintendent should include both the State School Board and the State Senate.

    However, this change will not be easy. It will take a constitutional amendment to change and the last time it was tried over 20 years ago, the voters shot it down.

    • Probably the best chance something like this has would be to include it in a complete re-write of the Constitution. But I just don’t see that type of thing happening these days. Too many entrenched interests will dig in. Amazing that we were ever able to do it in the past, when you think about it.

  5. Bull Moose says:

    I don’t know Rep. Dudgeon, but to me, this seems like a great idea! I would hope that, as he fleshes out the details of his proposal, that Board Members are elected by District and the Chairman of the Board is elected Statewide. Then collectively, the Board would recruit and select the Superintendent.

    If you couple this with redistricting reform, there could be real support by many for our state to get serious about making education a priority.

  6. John Konop says:

    We need to consolidate education agencies beyound this in my opinion. We should also merge higher education with 7 thru 12. This would increase quality by putting everything as much as possible under one roof. We need the right hand working with the left hand not finger pointing, By streamlining the buck stops at one roof. Not only does this save money by elimanting unneeded redundancy it should result with improving the situation and or indentifying the weak link quicker with faster changes if needed.

  7. saltycracker says:

    An appointed Super by the elected Gov or Board has a lot going for it. As with any hired position there should be minimum qualifications, PhD, management experience and accomplishments in the educational field…….not so if elected position……

  8. sandsage says:

    As the mom of a kid in public school who deals daily with all the B.S. brought down on us by Barge and Race to the the Top, me no likey. At this particular moment in time, the wolves are circling around public education, trying to figure out how they can make the most money off of it. The more decision-making gets centralized, the less accountability, the more the Pearsons of the world can bribe a few key figures in order to enrich themselves. I’d like to see this going in the opposite direction, with State School Board members elected by their district’s voters.

  9. David Stover says:

    When I wrote HR 1522 last session it was never my intention to elect the Superintendent of Georgia’s Schools, just the Board of Education Members themselves. The legislation is a Constitutional Amendment.

    I wrote the legislation to give the voters more say in the boards we have in the State of Georgia because quite frankly we have too many appointed boards as a whole. If people are going to serve on a board they should be accountable to the voters not just to a Governor no matter which party the Governor comes from.

    http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/en-US/display/20132014/HR/1522

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