UPDATE: The governor's spokesperson Cory Curtis just called saying that "it was inaccurate of Supt. Dorn to say" that he had heard the proposal the same time as the media had. "She [Gregoire] first briefed Dorn about the proposal about a month ago," Curtis said. "She also gave him a heads-up half an hour before the meeting. Sounds like Supt. Dorn didn't ask a lot of questions at the meeting and maybe that's why he's upset. I am sure the Governor would have clarified anything he wanted."
Curtis also said that Dorn's office received embargoed material on the proposal before the meeting. We'll have to wait for a bit to find out what Dorn has to say to that. Dorn's spokesperson Nathan Olson said the supe is returning from a meeting in Seattle and won't be available until tomorrow morning.
As for Dorn's qualms about having to report to an official appointed by the governor, Curtis dismissed them, explaining that "the main focus is to straighten out the state education system, not to take a jab at the work Dorn's office is doing." For background on this skirmish see below:
Looks like state Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn isn't super happy with everything Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed today morning regarding consolidating Washington's multiple education agencies into a single state Department of Education.
The new department would have full authority to run the entire state's education system and would consolidate the State Board of Education, Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, Higher Education Coordinating Board, State Board for Technical and Community Collages, and the Professional Education Standards Board into a new agency which would report to a Department of Education secretary who gets appointed by the Governor.
This is where Dorn has a problem. Dorn's office sent out a statement from him at 12:55 p.m. saying: "The governor can create any staff position she wants. Her proposal, however, would require the State Superintendent to report to a new Secretary of Education. I am an elected official: my boss is the people of this state, not the Governor. That is state law, explicit in Article III of the State Constitution. Would the Governor also suggest that the other elected officials report to a Governor-appointed official?"
Jump for more Dorn-Gregoire
Dorn also says he is concerned that he heard the proposal the same time as the media did. "The conversation I had with the Governor this morning did not reflect what she said in her press conference," Dorn said in his statement. "And in fact, members of the media were given more specific information than I was given by the Governor."
According to Dorn, Gregoire's idea isn't anything new. "I’ve been a legislator, and every governor I’ve known has wanted more power. They’ve tried to abolish offices. That is not in our Constitution. Ours is direct election by the citizens of this great state. What troubles me most, though, is that this feels like a smokescreen. The most pressing issue we face is lack of funding."
Dorn then attacks the state for underfunding public education: "Consolidating commissions and eliminating agencies isn’t a bad idea, but it takes time and energy away from much more pressing issues," he says. Right, like getting more kids to graduate from college.