Friday, February 4, 2011

GOP Senate To Board Of Education: Take That

Senator Bingman
Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman announced this afternoon that reform of the Department of Education and the placing of authority for the department in the hands of the superintendent will be a first order of business at 9 a.m. Monday.

Senator Ford
Bingman and Senator John Ford, R-Bartlesville, are co-authors of Senate Bill 718, which will give authority of the State Department of Education to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Control of the State Department of Education is currently held by the State Board of Education, which is appointed by the governor.

The Board recently tried to block Superintendent Janet Barresi's hiring of her senior staff and the resultant uproar prompted the planned action. Barresi is a Republican, five of the six Board members are Democrats.

“Senate Bill 718 will make our State Department of Education accountable to the people of Oklahoma by placing the powers and authorities within the department under the State Superintendent of Public Instruction,” said Bingman. “Oklahoma’s state superintendents must be allowed to implement the ideas on which they campaigned and what the voters have approved.”

“No other statewide office is required to answer to a board, we feel that it is appropriate for our elected officials to have more say than an appointed board,” said Ford, chairman of the Senate Education Committee. “Ultimately, Senate Bill 718 is about improving the quality of education for Oklahoma’s children.”

Bingman said an un-elected board that is not accountable to the desires of Oklahomans runs counter to the logic of a representative democracy.

“Voters elected Superintendent Janet Barresi to do a job and we will make sure that she has the authority to do it,” said Bingman.

Ford added that, “the people of Oklahoma have clearly requested a change in education policy through the election of Superintendent Baressi. It is critical that we honor the will of our citizens.”

Senate Bill 718, authored in the House by Speaker Kris Steele, will be heard in the Senate Education Committee at 9 a.m. Monday morning in room 419-C.

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