If the recommendations of Governor Matt Blunt's Government Review Commission are followed, it could open the door for governmental support of private schools via vouchers.
As Turner Report readers know, last week the commission, which was primarily made up of big time contributors to Republican candidates, recommended that Missouri's Commissioner of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, as well, as the head of the Department of Higher Education be appointed directly by the governor. Currently, both positions are appointed by a board whose members are appointed by the governor. The rationale for this recommendation is that it would overcome inertia and resistance to making change in education. A governor could put his man or woman in charge and get things done immediately.
This proposal is particularly scary to me since we have already seen that Governor Blunt has made efforts to garner state money for private schools. In addition, the governor and many of the majority party (Republican, for those of you who have not been paying attention), have received sizable campaign contributions from a group which promotes vouchers for private schools.
Too many times in recent memory we have seen politicians try to gain votes through posturing about the sorry state of education. This has led to ill-considered programs such as No Child Left Behind, which I have written about numerous times.
Undoubtedly, there are things that could be done which would improve education for Missouri students. Allowing Matt Blunt to appoint one of his major contributors to education commissioner post is not one of them.
It is the last thing that any of us in education wants, but if the recommendations
of Governor Matt Blunt's Government Review Commission are followed, the heads of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Department of Higher Education will be appointed by the governor. Currently, both positions are selected by commissions whose members are appointed by the governor.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Commission member Charles McClain of Columbia, who made the recommendation, said the move would help give the governor the power to bring about changes in education.
Considering our governor's track record, that is exactly what worries me. I am sure whatever changes he came up with would be designed to help Missouri businesses (and his campaign donors).
The commission's recommendations also included a recommendation to take away the secretary of state's ability to regulate securities and put it under a new agency whose head would be appointed by the governor. Nearly every state has its securities regulated by the secretary of state, an elected official. This change would appear to benefit the governor's pals, but not Missouri taxpayers.
The Post-Dispatch noted that the commission is primarily made up of Republicans who donated more than $100,000 to party candidates during the last election