The fracas between the state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn and our Governor Christine Gregoire just seems to be getting worse. After Gregoire announced yesterday that she wants to consolidate our state's various education agencies—including Dorn's—into one unified Dept. of Education, and appoint an official to lead it (an official whom Dorn would have to report to), Dorn attacked Gregoire's proposal as a power grab.
"I am glad that the Governor is talking about education—if we are talking about streamlining outdated offices that's fine, but when she starts talking about changing the constitution, then that would take a vote," Dorn said during a telephone interview today. "Better if you have an elected official in charge of education in the state."
But Gregoire's office says that appointing a new official will not require changing the constitution. There's nothing in the proposal that talks about eliminating the Superintendent of Public Instruction position, Gregoire's spokesperson Cory Curtis said.
"I agree to disagree," Dorn said. "They are changing my authority, moving departments out of my building—let's be honest about this. This will require amending the constitution. This whole thing should instead be about funding education. There's nothing in there that would affect the day-to-day workings of a classroom."
Funny how Dorn feels so strongly about the state Superintendent of Public Instruction's position now, about two years after he said at a debate while running for this very position that he was OK with eliminating it. In fact, Dorn said that the position of the state schools chief should be appointed by the governor.
More on the fracas after the jump
"I have to go back and look at the tapes," Dorn said when I quizzed him about it. "I wasn't really sure I was going to win the election. What I was trying to say was that if we had to go forward with the same person (Terry Bergeson), it made sense to eliminate the position and let the governor appoint someone." But after being in the office for two years and working to improve education, Dorn said that had changed.
As for Dorn getting upset because he got to find out about Gregoire's proposal the same time as us reporters did, Gregoire's office said that's simply not the case. Curtis said the Governor had briefed Dorn a month ago, right before the announcement. and sent embargoed information to his office.
Not true, says Dorn. "There was a mild conversation about it, but absolutely no details," he said. 'We never saw the structure of the proposal until it was released to the press."