Here's An Idea For Savings: Abolish The Education Secretary
We just got a press release letting us know that Education Secretary Helen Mountjoy is retiring from her post at the end of November.
Gov. Steve Beshear announced today that Helen Mountjoy, secretary of the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, has resigned her position effective Nov. 30 citing a long commute and a desire to spend more time with her family.
The Education Secretary is one of the most overrated titles in Kentucky state government. While the position is ostensibly a director in charge of P-12 education, postsecondary education and workforce development, it really only has charge of the latter. The Department of Education (KDE) and the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) are agencies set up to operate independently of the governor's administration. Each has its own board of directors that hire a chair or commissioner to administer the department.
There is little question that these agencies need to coordinate in order to maximize the effectiveness of education in Kentucky. Governor Ernie Fletcher attempted to improve this coordination by combining them into this single cabinet. States like Florida have emphasized this need by combining P-12 administration with postsecondary administration and have a single board with jurisdiction over all "P-16" education.
Nonetheless, an Education Secretary is not required for this coordination to occur; only the willingness of the KDE and the CPE.
No, the small office of the Secretary is easily dispensable. The section over which the Secretary has actual authority -- workforce development -- can just as easily exist in another cabinet, say, Economic Development.
We keep reading of the incredible budget crunch confronting the state. Mountjoy's resignation presents an opportunity for some quick and permanent savings.