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Committee of Michigan lawmakers consider eliminating State Board of Education

Oct 13, 2017

Some lawmakers in Lansing are debating whether the State Board of Education is necessary.

The resolution discussed at Thursday’s House education committee would do away with the state board, the board-appointed state superintendent, and the State Board for Public Community and Junior Colleges.

Instead, the governor would appoint a director for Michigan’s Department of Education.

Phil Power is with the think tank Center for Michigan. Power calls the current system confused and dysfunctional, “with no single person or institution responsible or capable of being held properly accountable for our miserable state of affairs.”          

Republican Representative Tim Kelly introduced the proposed changes.

“We need more accountability. And I think when you have the governor, the Senate, the House, state board, superintendent, all vying in this space it causes confusion and when everybody’s in charge, nobody’s in charge,” Kelly said.

But opponents say replacing an elected board with a position appointed by the governor would reduce the voice of voters.

“This measure clearly smacks in the face of communities having control over governmental operation, over public education. This is a push to erode democracy,” Jerome Reide, with the NAACP, said.

The resolution still has a long way to go. Because it would be an amendment to the state Constitution, it has to pass both the state House and Senate by a two-thirds majority. Then, voters would have to approve it.