Plan would change state superintendent’s role

The Associated Press
Thursday September 12, 2002

SACRAMENTO — California’s Department of Education would be placed under the control of the governor as part of a new legislative proposal released Tuesday to restructure the state’s education system. 

The plan is a proposed expansion of the state’s master plan for education, which guarantees every student the chance to go to college. 

Any elements of the new plan must be approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor to take effect. 

But Sen. Dede Alpert, D-Coronado, chairwoman of the master planning committee, called the plan “a comprehensive way to improve our system of public education.” 

The committee wants to make the Department of Education part of the governor’s cabinet, meaning the superintendent of public instruction would no longer be responsible for the state’s educational programs. 

Instead, the governor would be held more accountable for California’s education system, said Charles Ratliff, the committee’s senior consultant. 

“The governor has the major authority with the budget,” Ratliff said. “He’s able to veto and blue line spending items and set up budget priorities, yet he escapes any responsibility for what happens in schools.” 

But the governor has other priorities besides education, said department spokeswoman Nicole Winger, while “the superintendent acts on behalf of the public schools.” 

Although state officials said they hope the new master plan will work as well as the original, some educators have expressed skepticism. 

One strongly contested part of the plan is its recommendation to eliminate college acceptance policies that give an advantage to students who have taken advanced placement, called AP courses, in high school.