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Lawmakers Say Governor Should Appoint State Superintendent

Sen. Wilcoxson and Rep. Balkman say it is time to depoliticize top education post.

State Senator Kathleen Wilcoxson and State Representative Thad Balkman have filed legislation calling for a statewide vote to allow future Oklahoma governors to appoint the state school superintendent. Currently, that position is an elected, statewide office.

“We want to stress that this is not a new idea. In 1989, Task Force 2000, the bipartisan panel that helped shape House Bill 1017, recommended that the office of state superintendent be appointed rather than elected. The Academy for State Goals has made the same recommendation in the past. I think it is high time we gave it serious consideration,” said Senator Wilcoxson, R-OKC.

“We’ve looked at all models throughout the country. The bottom line is that those states allowing the governor to fill the top education posts have superior academic results. To ignore that fact is simply playing politics with the future of Oklahoma’s children,” explained Balkman, R-Norman.

Wilcoxson and Balkman said they would introduce Senate Joint Resolution 28 when the 2004 legislative session begins in February along with a companion measure, Senate Bill 849, which would change the way the state Board of Education is appointed.

Under the present system, the board members serve for six years with the governor appointing members when terms expire. Under SB 849, the governor would appoint three members whose terms would run concurrently with the governor’s term and fill the remaining three positions two years later. This would ensure that the current governor would always have a majority of appointments on the board. If the constitutional amendment is approved by voters, the changes would take effect in January 2007.

“We have made progress in education, but there are still tremendous gaps. When it comes to our basic subjects like reading, science and math, too many students cannot work at grade level. It is obvious the traditional models aren’t working. We need to take the politics out of the process and place the emphasis on the students. We believe this proposal will help do that,” said Senator Wilcoxson.

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Senate Communications Division - (405) 521-5774