Thursday, January 27, 2011

OCPA: Reform State Board of Education

OCPA: Legislature Should Reform the State Board of Education

The actions taken by the State Board of Education today—not allowing the newly elected superintendent to hire her own staff—are a perfect illustration of dysfunction in state government. It’s time for the state Legislature to reform the state Board of Education.

Though the state constitution does require the establishment of a State Board of Education, it explicitly states that, in addition to its composition, the board’s “powers and duties shall be prescribed by law.” The Legislature, therefore, can restrict or even take away the board’s managerial powers; at a minimum, the Legislature must ensure the superintendent possesses sufficient power to hire staff and manage the department as she sees fit. The Legislature can also reform the board by altering the length of its members’ terms and how they are appointed.

The members of the board, except for the superintendent, are currently appointed by the governor and hold six-year terms. The Legislature could easily revise the law to require that the term of each incumbent member ends with the election of a new governor and that each new member is appointed by the new governor or, maybe better yet, by the superintendent. The larger point is that control of our public education system is the hands of the Legislature and governor—they should be held responsible for remedying the board's unconscionable acts.

Today’s actions are a perfect example of why our government is dysfunctional. We tie down our executive officials with a dizzying array of boards and commissions that act like leeches on our public circulatory system. Why? Because we are unwilling to trust either the individuals the people have chosen to do their jobs well, or to trust the people to throw these officials out if they have performed poorly.

The architects of our national government long ago explained that the prerequisites for good government are energy, stability, and accountability. There is no doubt having our educational system run by Gov. Brad Henry’s people long after his departure makes for a more stable government. But a government that both lacks the power to reform itself and ignores the clear command of the people to change is no good at all.

To learn more about the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), visit their website.

[MP note: for more information on the brouhaha at the Board of Education, visit Oklahoma Watchdog and the McCarville Report.]


  1. With six year terms, one of them should come up for reappointment every year. If you had two come up every two years, there would be a new majority in two years. You could set up a system where the gov. and the super. each appoint one of the new members every two years. In this case, two years from now there would be a new majority.
    They should also have a mandatory furlough of 6-10 years after each term.

  2. Aren't you the same people who have been yelling (for about the last dozen years) for the State Supt. to be appointed rather than elected? Now, when the GOP has the spot, you want to Supt. to appoint the Board members?

    Methinks it's not about policy; it's about whom you supported.

  3. (By the way, that last comment was directed at the OCPA crowd, not your blog. Your blog was just where I happened to read the OCPA post. Sorry for any misunderstanding.)


PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR NAME when commenting. Anonymous comments may be rejected if NOT accompanied by a name.

Comments are welcome, but remember - commenting on my blog is a privilege. Do not abuse that privilege, or your comment will be deleted.

Thank you for joining in the discussion at! Your opinion is appreciated!