Gov. Stitt Suggests State Superintendent Should Be Appointed Instead Of Elected

Monday, January 13th 2020, 5:57 pm
By: Storme Jones

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is refusing to comment on a major change he suggested to the State Department of Education.

Stitt told the Oklahoman newspaper Sunday the state superintendent should be appointed by the governor rather than elected.  

The state’s largest teacher’s union said the governor’s proposal is a solution without a problem.

“We have better things to do with the funds we have, the limited resources we have as a state,” Oklahoma Education Association President Alicia Priest said, noting that the change would require amending the state construction, and a vote of the people. 

His office did not respond to News 9’s phone calls or e-mails Monday. 

"When the governor's elected by all four million Oklahomans, the people think that he or she's supposed to be able to go in and make some different moves on education to get outcomes," the governor told the Oklahoman. "That's just common sense. That's what I thought when I was sitting in Tulsa in the business world. That's what people in Oklahoma think."

“We have a checks and balances,” Priest said. “Our state superintendent is elected, and our state board is appointed by the governor, and that is a checks and balances system that has worked for our state and many other states.”

According to Ballotpedia, 12 other states elect state superintendents, while 37 are appointed by the governor or board of education.

"I'm just trying to point out the hindrances, the reason that I believe that we're not performing up to where other states are," Stitt told the newspaper.

Priest noted the unsuccessful reelection bid former State Superintendent Janet Barresi made in 2014.

“Our former state superintendent, the people spoke loudly,” Priest said. “That the vision that she was promoting for public instruction is not the vision that a majority of Oklahomans wanted, and we have a new superintendent and that’s how it should work.”

A 2011 bill that would have allowed the governor to appoint the position stalled in the state house.

“More democracy is better than less democracy,” Priest said. “This really feels like taking away the people’s voice.”

New 9 also reached out to the State Department of Education but didn’t hear back.