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Gregoire makes another push for 'Education Czar'

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kplu/local-kplu-955577.mp3

Governor Chris Gregoire is making another push to create a cabinet-level Department of Education. The idea appears to be faltering in the Washington legislature.

Gregoire says education in Washington operates in silos. There's early education, K-12 and higher ed. The Governor wants to create what she calls a seamless pre-K through 20 system headed by an education czar who would report directly to her.

But Gregoire's proposal seems a bit too much too fast to many of her fellow Democrats in the legislature. In the House there's a proposal to form a group to study the idea. The Governor says that's not acceptable:

"It's about the kids and their success. That's what's wrong with the system when everybody is defending their turf. Everybody is afraid of change."

Democrats in the Washington Senate are moving a bill that's closer to what the Governor wants. But it doesn't include higher education in the consolidation.

Washington now has an elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. Randy Dorn has previously said the Governor's proposal distracts from a lack of funding for Washington's public schools.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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