Skubick: The center of the angst between governors and State Board of Education

No Michigan governor has ever had a soft spot in his or her heart for the State Board of Education. In fact in several instances, the relationship has caused heart-burn for the chief executive.

Former Gov. John Engler lusted to just wipe out the beast. Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm sought to quietly install a new state school superintendent to replace the one she didn't want.

And here we have Gov. Rick Snyder up to his blue eyeballs in a turf fight that threatens to land him in court in a Snyder v. State Board of Education law suit.

At the center of the angst between the governors and the board is the fact that the governor does not control the board. They are duly elected by the citizens of Michigan, although the typical voter wouldn't know a board member from Adam or Eve for that matter.

So, the board can pretty much go along its merry way professing to want to work with the governor but if push comes to shove, the board can do what it wants. Governors don't much like that.

And what the SBE wants right now is to retrieve the so-called School Reform office, which the governor swiped from the Department of Education and relocated in his own department of Technology, Management and Budget.

If you know anything about this governor he is impatient and his report card to date on solving the failing school problem would not land him any honorary degree from anywhere.

So, rather than mark time while the Democratically controlled board tried to fix the flunking schools, he stepped in to do it himself.

Board President John Austin, who contends he wants to work with this governor, asked the governor to hold off.  

So much for that as the governor issued an Executive Order to make the switch leaving Mr. Austin and his six fellow Democrats in the dust.

For every action there is a reaction and Mr. Austin now advises the board could sue the gov. "We're likely to do that. We're exploring whether it's going to be an effective strategy," he explains while noting he thinks he has the state constitution on his side.

Will he reach out to the governor to avoid this ugly law suit?

"Oh yeah," he observes but in a turf war both sides have to give something and so far the governor is standing pat. However, things could change but for the time being somebody should be asking what is all this doing to fix the failing schools?

Good question.
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