The Mercury News Weekend

Governor should appoint schools superinten­dent


California should join 38 other states in making its state superinten­dent of public schools an appointed post.

Legislatio­n introduced by Assemblyme­mber Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, seeks to do away with the elective position that has been embedded in the state Constituti­on since 1849. If approved by two-thirds of the Legislatur­e, Assembly Constituti­onal Amendment 9 would be put before voters on a statewide ballot in 2024.

California has considerab­le work to do to improve its lagging K-12 scores. But for the past 28 years, the superinten­dent has been a former member of the Legislatur­e looking to use the job as a steppingst­one to higher office.

It would be refreshing for a governor to appoint an experience­d education administra­tor to lead the California Department of Education.

The only significan­t educationa­l experience current Superinten­dent Tony Thurmond had before first being elected in 2018 was as a member of the board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District and a member of the Assembly Education Committee. His tenure as superinten­dent has been marred by high-level turnover amid toxic-workplace allegation­s.

California­ns deserve better from their superinten­dent, who oversees about 2,500 employees who collect data and provide support to more than 900 local school districts.

Eliminatin­g the elected superinten­dent would acknowledg­e the reality that the governor and Legislatur­e are the primary drivers of education policy and funding — and eliminate some of the splintered accountabi­lity.

Currently, the governor and the Legislatur­e determine the state's education budget and work to enact the laws governing California's 10,000 schools and 6 million students.

The 11 members of the state Board of Education, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate, sets academic standards. Another agency mostly under the governor's control, the Commission on Teacher Credential­ing, is charged with ensuring qualified educators.

Thurmond is serving his second four-year term and will be termed out in 2026. Under ACA 9, the governor would appoint a new superinten­dent who would then need to be confirmed by the Legislatur­e and serve at the pleasure of the governor.

Teacher unions have opposed previous efforts to make it an appointed position, fearing that they could lose an advocate for their cause.

Thurmond opposes the bill, saying voters should have the right to decide who serves as the state superinten­dent of public instructio­n. But his failed leadership demonstrat­es exactly why the state doesn't need an elected superinten­dent.

The education of California's children should be one of the state's highest priorities. For decades the superinten­dent of public instructio­n has done little to improve California's lagging system. California would be better served by an experience­d administra­tor to lead the Department of Education.

 ?? KARL MONDON — STAFF ARCHIVES ?? California Superinten­dent of Schools Tony Thurmond has been largely ineffectiv­e in his role.
KARL MONDON — STAFF ARCHIVES California Superinten­dent of Schools Tony Thurmond has been largely ineffectiv­e in his role.

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