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          Front Page


Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Richardson Enlists Ex-Govs.

By David Miles
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE Gov. Bill Richardson on Monday enlisted the aid of three former governors in his campaign to create a governor-appointed secretary of public education and eliminate a policy-making state school board.
    "I think it's essential to have a single person who provides the vision and the leadership for education and education improvement in the state of New Mexico," said former Gov. Garrey Carruthers, a Republican who was in office from 1987 to 1990.
    Former Govs. Jerry Apodaca, a Democrat who served from 1975 to 1978, and Toney Anaya, a Democrat who served from 1983 to 1986, also appeared at a Capitol news conference to speak in favor of a Cabinet-level public education secretary and against a policy-making board.
    New Mexico currently has a policy-making state Board of Education with 10 elected members and five members appointed by the governor. The state also has a superintendent of public instruction appointed by the board.
    The House last week approved a proposed constitutional amendment (committee substitute for SJR 2, 5, 12 and 21) to create a secretary of public education and a policy-making education commission.
    Richardson does not want the policy-making commission, although governors have no formal say over proposed constitutional amendments, which are approved by the Legislature and sent to voters for ratification.
    Richardson has said he would accept an advisory panel in place of the policy-making state board.
    The House recently changed a proposed 10-member, elected Public Education Commission from advisory to policy-making. A six-member team of House and Senate members is expected to negotiate a compromise on that and other differences.
    If the Legislature approves the proposal, it would go on the ballot for a statewide election planned for September.
    Richardson on Monday said he hopes to meet with House Democrats and legislative negotiators about the proposal. The Democratic governor dismissed the argument of some House Democrats that an elected policy-making panel was necessary to retain voters' say in education policy.
    "Voters would have a say because they elected a governor," Richardson said. "The problem in New Mexico has been that no one is held accountable for education."