Education Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-1354

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION AND THE APPOINTMENT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.

Vote Date:

3/19/2007

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/12/2007

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Education Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The reason for this bill is to require the chairperson of the State Board of Education to hold a degree in education because having knowledge about the educational system will in turn produce an enhanced educational system (deleted by Substitute language). In addition this bill provides that the appointment of the Commissioner of Education go through the legislative executive nominations process because this will ensure the proper checks in the selection process of the Commissioner just like every other Commissioner that already has to go through the executive nomination process.

Substitute language: ***Deletes Section 1 of the bill.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Allan B. Taylor, on Behalf of the State Board of Education – Opposes passage of bill. Section 1 of SB-1354 requires that the Chair of the State Board hold a degree in education. Our discussion of that provision was led by board members with education degrees. As they explained, there is no reason for a requirement that the Chair of the Board hold an education degree because the Board, like this committee, is a policy-making body.

The skills required of a Board Chair are not necessarily part of the training or experience of an educator. The Chair is the principal spokesperson for the Board and is often asked to speak to stakeholder groups and the press. The Chair not only presides at meetings, but also facilitates discussion and decision by helping Board members find the common ground in their views. The Chair serves both the Board and the Department by helping to communicate and explain the Board's concerns to the Department and the Department's concerns to the Board. ** Substitute language addresses this concern.

Section 2 of the Bill removes from the Board the authority to appoint the Commissioner of Education and makes the position a gubernatorial appointment subject to confirmation by the Legislature. The Board submits that the existing system of empowering the Board to appoint the administrative head of the education agency, which has been part of our statutes since at least 1865, has served Connecticut well and should not be changed without a demonstrable need for a change.

“We fear another adverse consequence of the proposed change. As you know, we recently named Dr. Mark McQuillan as our next Commissioner. Dr. McQuillan happens to be the first Commissioner from outside Connecticut since Mark Shedd was appointed in 1973…We fear that adding steps to the selection process, and especially adding steps that raise the concern that extraneous political considerations will affect the process, will make the next search for a Commissioner for Connecticut even less attractive in the national marketplace.

“We also fear that a change in the appointment process after over a century and a half, following immediately upon the appointment of someone from outside the state will send the message that while Connecticut's next search may be national, only local candidates need apply.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Vinnie Loffredo, Lobbyist for the Connecticut Education Association- Supports the prospective impact and intent of this legislation. “CEA believes that with all of the demands that public education faces in Connecticut it is imperative that the future chairpersons of the State Board of Education have a degree in the field of education. CEA also believes that future Commissioners of Education that are recommended by the Governor go through the executive nomination process.”

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, INC. - “The proposal to require that the chairperson of the State Board of Education hold a degree in education is unnecessary, given the policymaking nature of the State Board of Education. Such a requirement would eliminate from consideration highly talented leaders, and create the implication that the State Board of Education serves as an administrative rather than a policymaking body. CABE also opposes the provision that would make the appointment of the Commissioner of Education based on the governor's recommendation, subject to the approval of the General Assembly. This proposal would make the process for selection of Commissioner much more difficult, would narrow the field of qualified candidates, and delay the appointment process.” ** Substitute language addresses one of their concerns.

Reported by: David Kiner

Date: 04/03/2007