Gov. John Kitzhaber campaigned on a platform of wide-ranging education reform. Hardly a piece of the system went unmentioned -- including early-child hood education.
Along with promises to establish a new "Oregon Diploma,” link data systems and eliminate redundant standardized tests was a promise to establish an "Early Childhood Coordinating Council.”
According a position paper posted to the governor's campaign site, Kitzhaber would "establish an Early Childhood Coordinating Council in the Governor's Office. The council would lead the way to align efforts, measure progress and ensure accountability, ensure efficiency in resources and maximize federal dollars for these efforts."
It was a nice idea, but didn't have a chance of becoming reality unless the governor could wrangle enough support from the state Legislature.
On June 21 2009, the Oregon House gave final approval to Senate Bill 909. While the bill got most of its press for creating the Oregon Education Investment Board, which will oversee all aspects of state education, it also gave life to an Early Learning Council. The bill explains: "The council is established for the purpose of assisting the board in overseeing a unified system of early childhood services, including the funding and administration of those services.”
The measure, it should also be noted, gives the governor the power to appoint the council's nine members, effectively putting it -- and any potential action -- under his purview. (Another bill established the governor as the new superintendent of public education when the current officer holder's term ends.)
It remains to be seen just how effective this council will be and what sorts of policy changes it might endorse, but it's clear that the governor can count this as a Promise Kept.