Bill would eliminate state board, make education chief Cabinet level

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A proposal to restructure the Education Department has resurfaced in the Legislature. A Senate committee will consider eliminating the state Board of Education and elevating the education commissioner to a Cabinet-level secretary.

The secretary would be appointed by the governor and oversee the Education Department.

Currently members of the state board appoint the education commissioner. Those board members are chosen by the governor.

The committee is expected to vote on the topic in the next couple of weeks.

Governor Jim Douglas supports the change. He says voters assume the governor oversees of all state departments, including education.

Education Commissioner Richard Cate told the Senate Education Committee that he has long been against such a change, saying it could make education more political.

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