Education Shake-Up Starts in Earnest

Article excerpt

Byline: Susan Palmer The Register-Guard

Gov. John Kitzhaber gave his newly convened education board its mission on Thursday, calling for an education czar to oversee all aspects of learning and outlining legislative proposals he wants crafted for consideration by state lawmakers, who begin a short session in February.

The Oregon Education Investment Board, which met on Thursday, is developing a job description for the chief education officer, who will supervise all the state-level education boards and their directors, from the the Early Childhood System director to the chancellor of the Oregon University System.

But that's assuming those governing bodies and their directors all survive the scrutiny of the education investment board, which will consider whether there are more effective ways of educating the state's students than with the systems in place.

Kitzhaber, who has called for a more seamless education system, has begun referring to it as the P-20 education system, with much less separation between preschool, elementary, secondary and higher education.

"We have a shared responsibility - as parents, teachers, business leaders and policymakers - to make the changes necessary to pursue excellence in our system of public education," Kitzhaber said Thursday in a statement. "That requires pulling together across school districts, universities and (agencies) to achieve our goals for high school and college completion and ensure the success of students in today's economy."

Kitzhaber wants the new chief education officer to have control over all education- related agency directors to make it easier to streamline changes in the system.

He also wants draft legislation that will allow the state to create agreements with school districts that outline how the districts will measure student progress and meet achievement goals.

And he expects the board to make recommendations this month that will reduce the number of boards and commissions that focus on the education and health of preschool-age children. …