Cleveland Plain Dealer's Version of Zelman vs. Strickland Battle for Ohio Education

Zelman, state superintendent, disagrees with Strickland's proposed shake-up
Schools boss, Strickland disagree

Saturday, February 09, 2008
Scott StephensPlain Dealer Reporter

An upbeat Susan Tave Zelman shrugged off an apparent no- confidence vote from the governor and vowed to continue mov ing the state's 1.8 million-student public school system forward.

"I love my work, I love this state and I'm confident this will all work out," the state schools superintendent told The Plain Dealer Friday. "I'm not going to stop until Ohio is seen as the best state in the United States in terms of offering a world-class education."

Zelman's remarks were her first public comments since Gov. Ted Strickland, in his State of the State speech Wednesday, called for creation of a Cabinet- level director of education who would report directly to him. The new position, which would have to be created by the legislature, would relegate Zelman and the 19-member State Board of Education to advisory roles.

In his speech, Strickland acknowledged the state has moved up in national education rankings, but said the public schools system could not be run by an "unwieldy department with splintered accountability."

The announcement, and its timing, surprised some. Zelman said she was on her way to a social event late Tuesday evening when she was summoned to the governor's office. She said an aide showed her portions of Strickland's address.

"I was very surprised," she said, adding that she and the governor have not spoken since his Wednesday speech.

The bombshell also surprised State Board of Education President Jennifer Sheets.
"I have had a fairly good professional and personal relationship with the governor, who was my congressman," said Sheets, of Pomeroy. "I'm disappointed he didn't see a need to contact me ahead of time."

Zelman, who begins her 10th year as the state's superintendent of schools March 8, said she sharply disagreed with the governor's proposal, but did not take it as a personal rebuke.

"I understand politics," she said.

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