Gregoire makes rare appearance before legislature to tout education system reforms

Feb 2, 2011

Christine Gregoire says she had an "aha moment" last summer about why Washington's education system isn't getting any better.

The governor made a rare appearance before a legislative committee Wednesday to talk about her proposal to create a new cabinet-level Department of Education that would oversee all the state's education efforts, committees and boards, from early learning to college.

The Associated Press says Gregoire concluded that Washington has education silos instead of an education system.

"The system is not working. We have to do something." Gregoire said the people of Washington hold her accountable for education, despite the separately elected superintendent (of public instruction.) "If the public is holding me accountable, make me accountable."

Eliminate elected superintendent position?

Senator Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue) has taken Gregoire's idea one step further and has proposed eliminating the superintendent of public instruction as an elected office.

The Senate Education Committee heard testimony on both the governor's and Tom's ideas today.

Among those opposing both plans is Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn, who said the people deserve an independent voice for education who is not beholden to the governor or his or her budget.

Last month Dorn complained that the new plan is part of an effort to make the governor more powerful.

“I am an elected official: My boss is the people of this state, not the governor.”

Dorn has said he doubts Tom's proposed constitutional amendment would succeed.