Gov. Chris Gregoire is announcing a major proposal to shake up the state schools establishment, creating a new Department of Education to govern preschool through college education.
The move, which is being announced this moment at the Capitol, would abolish the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction but retain Superintendent Randy Dorn's role as elected leader of the K-12 portion of the new agency.
The move could require a constitutional amendment, although that appears to be in dispute.
The proposal comes on the heels of Monday’s report by Gregoire’s task force on education, which called for greater tuition setting authority for colleges and creation of a private $1 billion endowment for higher education.
The new department would report directly to the governor – making this the latest in a series of proposals that consolidate power in the Governor's Office.
The Legislature agreed to make the secretary of transportation directly appointed by the governor a few years ago, despite retaining the Transportation Commission. Late last year, Gregoire proposed a similar take-over of several agencies she wants to merge – including the Department of Fish and Wildlife, state parks and the Conservation Commission.
Here's the developing AP story: Gov. Gregoire calls for new education department
Update on original 10:30 a.m. post: Gregoire said she knows of nothing in the state Constitution that would prevent the Legislature from making the structural changes she is seeking for OSPI.
Second update: Our partner Peter Callaghan up the road at The News Tribune has this piece on elected state school chief Randy Dorn’s reaction to the proposal that would make him second fiddle in a new education agency. He quotes Dorn as saying:
Perhaps that's another way of saying all politics is local.