There are some big changes coming to the state’s education community. Lawmakers this session approved elevating the Department of Education to a full agency, which means it will be led by a secretary who will be in the governor’s cabinet.
Education commissioner Armando Vilaseca says the change will help highlight education issues.
Currently the state Board of Education is responsible for developing education policies in Vermont. But that’s going to change at the beginning of next year.
That’s when a new law takes effect that transfers this authority from the board to the governor’s office.
Vilaseca says he fully supports this change.
"Quite honestly, when the state Board of Education makes a decision, unless it’s a controversial decision in some way, it’s quite often under the radar," he said. "I think now with the governor being in charge of the Agency of Education, whatever occurs is going to have that strength and that clout from the governor’s office along with it."
Vilaseca also thinks the change will help make education issues more prominent during gubernatorial campaigns.
"It now puts education as one of the major issues of any campaign for governor," he said. "Where again in the past a gubernatorial candidate could say, ‘You know, I’m interested in education. But I have no authority over it because of the state board.’ Now this makes it a forefront issue and it’s a healthy debate, I think, as part of the gubernatorial campaign."
Vilaseca may be interested in applying to be the state’s first education secretary. He says he needs to learn more about the application process, but the answer seems to be, "Yes."
"As someone who’s given 30-plus years of my life to education in Vermont," he said. "I’m interested in keeping myself involved with education in whatever capacity I could support the governor and support the state."
Many of the responsibilities of the state Board of Education will be transferred over to the governor’s office in the first three months of 2013.