EDITORIAL: Streamlining N.C.'s Education Structure
There are too many cooks stirring the public-education pot in North Carolina, and Gov. Beverly Perdue wants to do something about it.
Did Perdue overreach her powers a bit when, shortly after taking office earlier this year, she formally transferred control over the N.C. Department of Public Instruction by naming the chairman of the State Board of Education as "CEO" of the education department?
In a technical sense, perhaps. State Superintendent June Atkinson, feeling left out, has charged that the governor's action, which makes her job even more of a figurehead than it was before, is unconstitutional. But that could be rendered moot if the General Assembly passes a bill now before it, which would let the voters of the state vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate the superintendent's job as an elective office.
Though elective democracy is a good thing, it is meaningless if it requires the voters to choose among candidates for too many Council of State offices of whom they know little or nothing. Our state system should be more like the federal level, where most such offices are presidential cabinet appointments.
The superintendent's job is a prime example. Though the holder of that office supposedly wields constitutional authority over the Department of Public Instruction, the fact is that the real power has shifted over the years to the State Board of Education. The board sets the policies under which the public schools operate. It only makes sense that the board should also oversee the Department of Public Instruction. That way, there is some semblance of a rational chain of command.
That's the way the schools should be supervised. The state constitution says otherwise, creating a muddle. The legislature should give the voters of the state a chance to decide whether to change the constitution in that regard.
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