Jeff Kruse

MARCH 3, 2017




I have received a large number of emails over the last couple of weeks, many of them from people who are new to communicating with me.  Therefor I thought I should explain how I handle all of this.  Unlike some up here I do all of my own email.  I do read them all, but do not have the time to respond to all of them and I will not send out a “generic” response.  I add anyone who has sent me an email to this list, because I am assuming they might like to know what I am thinking on various subjects.  I may not get to everyone’s concerns immediately, but eventually most subjects will be covered.

This week I want to talk about education, specifically the structure, or lack of it, in Oregon.  Several years ago, when Kitzhaber was Governor, the Legislature eliminated the position of Superintendent which made the Governor the head of education.  At that point a board was also created with jurisdiction over the K- 20 system that was basically a rubber stamp for whatever the Governor wanted.  This has turned into an absolute train wreck and two years ago we eliminated the Board.  It was our intention to make some significant changes, but so far that hasn’t happened.  In a couple of weeks, we will be having hearings on some legislation to accomplish what we haven’t been able to up to this point.  I will describe what the plan would do and I would welcome any comments you might have.


This is a design to give us for the first time a true K-20 system by creating a Board where all parts of the system are represented.  This is also an attempt to take politics out of education.  We would be creating a 12-person board.  Three members representing the universities, three members representing community colleges and six members representing K-12.  In the case of K-12 there would be one member from each congressional district and one at large, with the assumption that Oregon will get an additional Congressional seat in the next redistricting cycle.  The Board, as is usually the case will be appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate.  But here is where we find a significant change from the way things are usually done.


The Governor would be restricted to making appointments from lists provided by the various elements of the Board.  For example, the 17 community colleges would get together and nominate a list for the Governor to choose from.  The same would happen for the Universities and K-12.  By creating a Board in this fashion we would ensure that each area would want to have their best and brightest representing their interests on the Board.  For the first time we would have a board overseeing our education system that was fully informed as to the system and could hopefully make the changes necessary to make education in Oregon top notch again.


This leaves only one piece left to fix and that would be the superintendent.  With an elected superintendent or the governor, we really don’t have a person in charge that is accountable to the system they are overseeing.  We think it is time for a change and the superintendent should actually be accountable to the system they are in charge of.  To do this we would need a Constitutional Amendment.  Currently the Constitution says the Superintendent will either be elected or the Governor will be the Superintendent.  Time has shown neither option to be the best for the system.  We are proposing to change the Constitution so the Superintendent could be hired by this newly created board.  This way we would have the Chief Operating Officer of the most important enterprise in the state (the education of our children) directly accountable to the system they are in charge of.  This would help take the politics out of education and get us refocused on the real mission of a first rate education system.


I personally think this would be a very positive step for our state, and would welcome your thoughts on the issue.  It is time to get out of the rut we find ourselves in and move in the right direction.




Senator Jeff Kruse



email: I phone: 503-986-1701
address: 900 Court St NE, S-205, Salem, OR, 97301