Oregon Governor Appoints Himself Superintendent of Schools

Jul 7, 2011 by

In a flurry of education bills passed last week, Oregon governor John Kitzhaber oversaw legislation to appoint an unlikely candidate for superintendent of schools: himself. Though many states have moved towards more centrally controlled education systems, Oregon became the first state to abolish the traditional office of superintendent and appoint the governor as superintendent of public instruction.

The governor will appoint a deputy superintendent to oversee the day-to-day activities in K-12 schools. The deputy must perform any duty designated by the governor and can be removed at any point following consultation with the state school board (which will also be newly appointed by the governor; this “superboard” of officials will oversee spending and policy for all grade levels).

How did this state of affairs come about? After Oregon’s application for the 2010 Race to the Top Competition placed seventh to last, parents and legislators began to press for innovation and reform. Kitzhaber argues that central authority will help him push needed reforms. Kitzhaber is already on the reform track with legislation allowing universities and community colleges to sponsor charter schools and raising the cap on online charter schools. He is also earning pushback from the state’s teacher’s unions.

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