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State schools chief Randy Dorn surprised – and not exactly thrilled – with Gregoire plan for public education

Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Jan. 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm with 12 Comments »
January 5, 2011 3:37 pm

Maybe it is because he found out about it the same time the reporters did.

Maybe it is because he would become a department head serving under an appointed Education Secretary who is, in turn, appointed by the governor.

Whatever the reason, state Superintendent of Public Schools Randy Dorn expressed opposition to a plan announced this morning to completely restructure the state’s public and higher education organization.

Here is Dorn’s statement, hurt feelings and all…

In a press conference this morning, Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed creating a state Department of Education that would oversee the many “silos” that make up our entire education system, from early learning to K-12 to higher education.

I’m pleased that the Governor is focused on education, and I have worked closely with her on many issues. I agree wholeheartedly that we need to streamline some of the processes.

I’m concerned, first of all, that I heard the proposal the same time as the media did. The conversation I had with the Governor this morning did not reflect what she said in her press conference. And in fact, members of the media were given more specific information than I was given by the Governor.

More than that, though, is that this isn’t a new idea. I’ve been a legislator, and every governor I’ve known has wanted more power. They’ve tried to abolish offices. That is not in our Constitution. Ours is direct election by the citizens of this great state.

The governor can create any staff position she wants. Her proposal, however, would require the State Superintendent to report to a new Secretary of Education. I am an elected official: my boss is the people of this state, not the Governor. That is state law, explicit in Article III of the State Constitution. Would the Governor also suggest that the other elected officials report to a Governor-appointed official?

What troubles me most, though, is that this feels like a smokescreen. The most pressing issue we face is lack of funding. In February 2009, a King County Superior Court judge ruled that basic education is underfunded in the state – and that ruling was based on financial data from two years before. Since then, education has been cut even further. Consolidating commissions and eliminating agencies isn’t a bad idea, but it takes time and energy away from much more pressing issues.

The Governor and I agree on one thing: our future depends on the education of all of our students.”

Leave a comment Comments → 12
  1. While I don’t think the Governor’s plan is going to save the state any money, I find it laughable that Randy Dorn hasn’t figured out that the Governor doesn’t like him.

    Seriously, I’m very nervous that the Governor will have complete control over education in this state–appointing the Secretary and appointment the Advisory Board members. That is very troubling considering that she hasn’t done much for education so far except add unfunded mandates to school districts–High School and Beyond Plan, Culminating Project, Education Reform, etc.

  2. danlbuckley says:

    This is an outright power grab by the Governor.

  3. enotrams says:

    This is just lipstick on a pig!

    The statewide ontime graduation rate is less than 75% and the governor is talking about a senior launch year.

    Apparently Dorn is the only one in Olympia who hasn’t been drinking the koolaid.

  4. BigSwingingRichard says:

    If we want to improve pubic schools in Washington State we should find a way to eliminate the WEA and replace the current governor.

  5. colsprague says:

    I haven’t had time to analyze her whole proposal, but here’s the main reason I would support getting rid of the elected Superintendent. Dale Washam. People pay attention to who they vote for as governor but I’m guessing precious few know anything about who they’re voting for for Superintendent of Public Instruction. Name recognition can win the day. This hasn’t happened yet, but I can certainly see an election happening in which we get a Dale Washam-type overseeing our state’s education system and that would be a real shame.

  6. fatuous says:

    How money do we save? That’s what I want to know.

  7. mattersnot1 says:

    What the Governor proposes would require an amendment to our State Constitution. Neither she or the legislature have this power. Only the PEOPLE have this power and I doubt we would be anxious to give up an elected position in favor of a Governor appointed position.

  8. mattersnot1 says:

    colsprague, Do you know Mr. Washam personally, work in the Pierce County A/T office or are judging him by what you read in the media? If it is the latter, then I suggest you dig deeper for information. From what I have researched and found, Mr. Washam excercised his judgment in determining which employees were best suited to perform what functions within his office. The result has been a more efficiently run office that is more productive and doing it legally.
    Furthermore, our State Supreme Court has already determined that the exercise of judgment is not grounds for recall. Chandler v. Otto, 103 Wn.2d 268,275, 693 P.2d 71.
    It seems to me that certain employees within that office aren’t as upset about losing their high salaries as they are about losing their power.

  9. colsprague says:

    I have met Mr. Washam. I have talked with a couple of his employees — not those filing suit — and I have seen the money spent and the arrogant attitude shown by Mr. Washam. Frankly, all I needed to do was read one of his “open letters”on the website and read (again, on his own website) that he refuses to answer questions from the media unless they are submitted in writing to know that he’s not competent to wash the assessor’s cars, let alone manage the office.

    As for foolish recall attempts? Mr. Washam and his goon know plenty about that.

  10. mattersnot1 says:

    Please cite your authority that requires any person, including public officials, to answer questions from the media.
    Quite frankly, I don’t blame Mr. Washam for protecting himself from being “blind sided” by a misquote.

  11. If academics were the goal, we’d prohibit the National Education Assoc. and the Washington Education Assoc. from any involvement in our state. As it is, we sacrifice our children to Left-wing politicization of the classroom. In return, we get higher costs and lower results. The Olympia School Dist. recently reported that it graduated 1 in 5 as illiterate.

  12. Too many complietnms too little space, thanks!

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