The following is an explanation provided by WSSDA, the Washington State School Directors’ Association, of what Governor Gregoire proposes to do to restructure our education administration for the state.

It is proposed by the governor that OSPI, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction be abolished. Randy Dorn, who is the State Superintendent, an elected position, and head of OSPI, would no longer be a part of the administration. Governor Gregoire is proposing that the governor select an individual to head the newly formed Department of Education for the state as well as the board members.

In two words “bad idea”.

Mr. Dorn has been at odds with many of the reformist ideas including the privatization of our public schools and in my book has represented the children of this state far better than the Governor or our PTA in that regard.

In California, during Governor Schwarzenegger’s two terms, he had an appointed school board of directors on the State Board of Education that had individuals on it who represented charter schools and included Ben Austin, the Parent Trigger guy who was paid for by Greendot charter schools to be the spokesperson for closing schools and turning them into charter schools. Since then, Governor Brown has fired the representatives of charter schools from the state school board and replaced them with educators.

And as with any restructuring in government, the cost would be exorbitant.

Below is a description of the proposal. At the end of this post are the names of our state representatives to call. Please let them know what you think of this bill. They want to hear from you.


WSSDA Update

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Senate committee to hear Governor’s education restructuring bill

The Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee will hear SB 5639 at its 8 a.m. hearing Wednesday, February 2nd in Senate hearing room 1.Stakeholders received a copy of the bill and a “structure summary” this afternoon.

As Gov. Chris Gregoire announced last month, her proposal would create a Department of Education, and would move early learning, K-12, community and technical colleges, and the Higher Education Coordinating Board into the new department, among other changes.

The bill would move the Superintendent of Public Instruction, currently a statewide-elected official, under the new department unless a constitutional amendment to abolish the office is approved in the November 2011 election. If the office is abolished, the duties and powers of the SPI would be transferred to the new department, with K-12 education becoming a division of the department.

While WSSDA does not have a formal “association” position on making the Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed position, the WSSDA Board of Directors voted unanimously January 31st to oppose efforts to change the statewide elected status of SPI.

Board members listed the need for an independent voice, subject to the citizens of the state, as critical to a fair discussion for public schools and student needs. Also cited were the constraints imposed by reporting to a public agency head that had been appointed by the Governor, as well as a concern that the paramount duty to fund K-12 education would be minimized by making it one of many divisions.

While taking a hard line on keeping a statewide elected official, WSSDA board members also expressed support for a world-class education system that is student-centered and designed to help all students achieve.

Also in the governor’s proposal is a section (Section 344) repealing WSSDA’s state agency status. If enacted, WSSDA would cease operations as a state agency association July 1, 2012. WSSDA receives no state funding and has no policy authority over the K-12 education system. As such, the board opposes WSSDA’s inclusion in this restructuring bill, and will be seeking an amendment to remove the association from the proposal.

The proposal also would eliminate the State Board of Education, and would create a P-20 Education Council comprised of 11 members appointed by the Governor. Members would represent “the public and the public’s interest in early learning, K-12 education, community college and CTE education, and university education.”

The education restructuring bill is one of many efforts by this governor to consolidate state agencies into larger departments. Other examples include collapsing many natural resource agencies into one agency, and centralizing services – such as technology, facilities, human resources – into a single agency.

Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, has indicated that she will introduce her own proposal on education system restructuring.  Haigh has stated that stakeholders should have had a say in the governor’s proposal, and that a deliberative process to look at the system and offer improvements would be a more appropriate approach to reform.

The Senate hearing is one step in the journey of how a bill becomes law. School directors who are interested in this topic should familiarize themselves with the bill and may want to contact their local legislators to share recommendations or concerns.

Please call or e-mail your representatives and tell them what you think about this proposal:

Senator Rosemary McAuliffe, Chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee   (360) 786-7600

Senator Lisa Brown          (360) 786-7604

Senator Nick Harper     (360)786-7674

Senator Bob Hasegawa   (360) 786-7862

Senator Adam Kline      (360) 787-7688

Senator Sharon Nelson  (360) 787-7667