Minority report on the Governor’s education package

The Governor’s education package passed to bi-partisan acclaim. There were those, however, who opposed the Faustian elements of the package. Speaking to those elements, Harry Esteve at the Oregonian noted, “Power over the public school system has become centralized in the governor’s office like never before.” He went on to point out that Oregon is the only state in the nation to have made the Governor the state school superintendent. Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) wrote about his opposition in his June 17, 2011 newsletter.

by Sen. Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg)

The two bills that give me the greatest concern are SB 552 and SB 909.  SB 552 would make the Governor the Superintendent of Public Instruction and SB 909 would allow the Governor to create a Board, under his control, to run all early children’s programs and the education system.  In essence the Legislature would be ceding our rightful oversight of the education system to the executive branch.  Additionally, if you look at other provisions in the bill, there is the potential for the Governor to take away power and authority from local school boards.

Twelve years ago Governor Kitzhaber tried to pass legislation to make himself the Superintendent and we were able to stop him.  It was bad public policy then and it still is today.  I do believe our education system needs significant changes, but these issues need to be dealt with in an open public forum, not by a small group behind closed doors.  The result of reaching a deal without broad input is the series of bills we now see, some of them fatally flawed.  There are admittedly Legislators who want to be able to go home and take credit for passing this bill or that bill.  I think the focus should be on good public policy and not who gets credit.

I had hoped this session would allow us to deal with some real education reform.  Unfortunately the package we are being given has much more bad in it than good, and it is not something I can support.