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Oregon Senators move closer to turning the state's highest education official into a gubernatorial appointee

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March 31, 2011

By Eileen McGuire-Mahony

Salem: OREGON: An Oregon education bill that has steadily gained traction since its introduction at the beginning of the year came one step closer to becoming law earlier this week. SB 552 would make the Governor, an office currently held by Democrat John Kitzhaber, into the state's Superintendent of Education.

The law would not affect the sitting Superintendent, Susan Castillo, recently re-elected for third term, but would end the practice of electing the office once her term expires. Instead, the title and authority of the office would automatically belong to the Governor, who would be required to name a deputy to handle day-to-day tasks.

The law also lays out some requirements for that deputy, gives the Senate "advise and consent" powers in the appointment, and protects some of the influence of the state's Board of Education.

After brief discussion, the Senate's Education Committee passed the bill unanimously.[1] Governor Kitzhaber is known to support the plan.

Education has been a hot topic in the current session of Oregon's legislature. Recently, the Senate passed bills requiring full day, free kindergarten and amending the state's laws governing charter schools. In the higher education arena, a pointed debate to extend in-state tuition rates to illegal immigrants also passed.

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