Senator Ford advances alternative Education Board reform

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published 14-Feb-2011

Oklahoma state Senate Education Chairman John Ford offered a second bill on Monday (February 14) to restructure the state Board of Education.  The measure, Senate Bill 435, was approved by the Education Committee by a vote of 9 to 5.

“Up until 1971, the Board included the State Superintendent, the Governor, the Attorney General and the Secretary of State,” Ford explained.  “After that time the law was changed to make the Board of Education appointed by the Governor.  Senate Bill 435 would take the Board back to its original structure.”

Ford also authored SB 718 which was approved by the same committee last week.  He said that measure had the same goal in mind — ensuring the Superintendent would have the authority to implement the improvements and reforms the public had supported when they voted for Superintendent Janet Barresi last November.  That measure gave authority to make decisions to the Superintendent.

“What we’re trying to put in place is a process that adds some accountability to the will of the voters of this state, regardless of political party,” said Ford, who represents Craig, Nowata and Washington Counties.  “We’ll continue to listen to members and individuals who have a vested interest so that we can develop a system that has checks and balances as well as accountability, and that will stand the test of time.  At the end of the day we’ve got to make sure we’re providing a better education for our students.”

Both measures must next be considered by the full Senate.

Calls for changes in education department governance have grown intense since members of the board clashed repeatedly with Superintendent Barresi at her first meeting with them. Among other things, board members refused to approve her hiring decisions.