NEWS RELEASE: Wyoming Department of Education
CHEYENNE: After her testimony, Senate File 0104 was reviewed by the Senate Education Committee and referred to General File in the Senate. Senate File 104 - would establish an appointed bureaucrat who would assume most of the duties currently performed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Superintendent Hill offered testimony today to the Senate Education committee, highlighting what she sees as the differences of those who are appointed versus those elected, saying her concern is the concentration of power which would be transferred from the people to the Governor.
Superintendent Hill is also concerned about the impact this legislation would have on the people of Wyoming's input in education.
"This appears to be a power grab, which takes power away from the people of Wyoming and gives it to the Governor," said Hill. "If a change needs to be made it should be made by the people of Wyoming in the form of an amendment to the Wyoming State Constitution."
In her testimony, she added that she believes there is a difference between an elected official and a bureaucrat overseen by a supervisor.
"Elected officials must listen and be responsive," she told the committee. "Each state-wide elected official is responsible to all of the people of the state – not a few, not just the select. It is why my phone number is published and why I return every call as soon as possible. A bureaucrat responds only to his or her immediate supervisor."
The bill would call for the Governor to appoint an interim Director of Education immediately at the signing of the bill and appoint a permanent Director of the Wyoming Department of Education no later than Dec. 1, 2013. Wyoming Department of Education PRESS RELEASE
The interim director would have one month to prepare a status report on the transfer of power from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to the Director of the Wyoming Department of Education to the Governor, Joint Education Interim Committee, the Joint Appropriations Interim Committee and the Select Committee on Statewide Educational Accountability. The report would include the interim director's opinions and recommendations on further legislation needed to transfer from the State Superintendent to the State Director position.
The bill would provide $500,000 from the school foundation program to the office of the interim director of education to be used for what is termed, "necessary professional consultation expertise."– Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Cindy Hill testified before the Senate Education Committee today regarding a bill, which would make the State Superintendent of Public Instruction an appointed position.
Superintendent Hill's full response:
Delivered January 11, 2012
"In the past several hours I have had many questions directed to me about the wisdom of Senate File 0104. Believing this might be the appropriate time for me to address the committee, I prepared these remarks.
Let me start by saying that I always welcome rational, robust discussion, even on what might at first glance appear to others as a personal attack. I realize this is a serious issue affecting all future superintendents and all of the voters of Wyoming. Perhaps similar legislation will affect Treasurers, Auditors, Secretaries of State, or even Governors. However, let me confine my observations to the bill at hand.
The real issue for you to discuss – and then to explain to your constituents – involves why the legislative branch supports removing the powers and authority of a state elected official, who represents all of the people of the state, including those too young to vote, and instead entrusts the educational system in the hands of an appointed bureaucrat.
Let me give you some thoughts about state-wide elected officials. In many respects these are similar to the characteristics of each of you as a locally elected leader.
• Elected officials must listen and be responsive. Each state-wide elected official is responsible to all of the people of the state – not a few, not just the select. It is why my phone number is published and why I return every call as soon as possible. A bureaucrat responds only to his or her immediate supervisor.
• Elected officials must be innovative. The work we perform changes daily. It is not enough to do what has been done before, or what was approved in some distant, prior session of the legislature. The elected official is "entrusted" with the work that needs to be done now, done well, and done promptly. That is not to say it is always pretty or perfect. Elected officials accomplish the goals entrusted to them. Appointed bureaucrats too often simply check the boxes and then go home.
• Elected officials are leaders. By their very nature a person taking on a statewide campaign demonstrates an ability to organize support, to clarify the tasks at hand, and to accomplish the work. While most successful people exhibit these traits, not all appointed bureaucrats successfully transition to this place.
• Elected officials are dedicated. I suppose it should be clear by now that I am passionate about my work and about how everything I do must be viewed as improving the educational system of Wyoming. I wish every employee shared my enthusiasm for their work. I refer to this as Personal Commitment. It is what I require of my staff and what they have pledged to me – that they are personally committed to improving instruction
for the benefit of all of our children. In my case I am entrusted with the little hand of each of our children, to lead that child to a productive future, to take that child's hand from the parent and to give that child what the parent knows is so essential – a complete education. This is an awesome responsibility and I take it very seriously. An appointed bureaucrat may have a different set of priorities.
• Elected officials are to some extent risk-takers. That is not to say we seek risk or act without regard to consequences. However, the people have entrusted us to act appropriately, but act we must. Bureaucrats are risk avoiders, seeking rather to protect his or her job.
In short, when duty calls, elected officials respond. I suppose we all know of bureaucrats who possess these traits, but also we know many who do not. In the case of an elected official the people of the state – through the ballot box – decided who to keep and who to return to private life. This is not so for bureaucrats, who too often merely float from one position to another, never fully enjoying their success, but never bearing the consequences of failure.
Some of you might argue that the pending legislation does not remove the "office" but only changes the duties. I would say to you this simple fact: Ceremonial titles are just that – ceremonial. They have little value; a person possessing one has little ability to accomplish the work or to bring about change. If the people are voting for a State Superintendent of Public Instruction it is because they honestly believe that person can accomplish the job. If you strip away the power to get the work done, you have stripped away the voice of the people. A vote for a future elected, but ceremonial, state-wide official will become a null act, an exercise in futility.
I suggest that if you really want to deprive the people of a vote for Superintendent, then be direct about it. Do it correctly - simply remove the office by amending the constitution.
Until then, too many people will believe that this is a personal attack and that you fear the high level conversation I would personally welcome. So let us be honest with the people. Let us engage in the discussion and then allow the people to decide. I trust them. Do you?"