Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Business School

Gov. Beverly Perdue created a new post this week - "Chief Executive Officer" of the North Carolina state school system. Dr. William Harrison will serve as both CEO and Chairman of the State Board of Education.

Problem is, we just re-elected someone to run the school system - Superintentendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson.

Apparently the position was created to eliminated the logjam between the Board and Superintendent. Atkinson dealt with the conflict in her previous term by just abdicating her responsibilities, and appointing a Deputy Superintendent to handle day-to-day operations.

Although Perdue is being praised by the usual suspects for her decision, no one seems to be concerned about pesky details like democracy. The only position established by law is the Superintendent - not a Deputy and not a CEO - and that position is supposed to be determined by the vote of the people, not a political favor from a sitting governor.

Also, having the same person serve as Chairman of the Board and the Executive violates all sorts of corporate law principles and separation-of-powers concerns. Logjams in government are healthy things - they show that people in decision-making positions are looking over each other's shoulders, preventing corruption, all to benefit the electorate (or are we "shareholders" now?).

Sen. Martin Nesbitt (D-Asheville) says this is a blatant power grab by the governor to take over the school system and stifle any opposition:

What the governor says, goes, Nesbitt said, and no one within the state Department of Public Instruction is allowed to offer different opinions. "We've muzzled other voices that might tell us what we need to know," he said.
Equally troubling is that Harrison has been instrumental in imposing federal standards and federal regulations over the state education system, through evil tools such as No Child Left Behind.

North Carolina has the obligation to run its own schools -- even the federal statutes admit they have no authority to impose educational mandates on the states. But with no representative of the people in the process, Harrison and Perdue can completely hand control of the state educational system over to the federal government.

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