Michigan schools chief decision due by Saturday
- Michigan schools chief decision due by Saturday
Watkins could get another state job
January 28, 2005
BY LORI HIGGINS
FREE PRESS EDUCATION WRITER
Tom Watkins could be out of a job by Saturday, but on his way to
The state Board of Education is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Saturday to
discuss Watkins' employment as state superintendent. The meeting should
end weeks of speculation about Watkins that began when word leaked that
Gov. Jennifer Granholm had asked him to resign.
"We're all working hard to help resolve the situation. We're working to
help Tom make a transition to a good opportunity that can be fruitful
and attractive and help in the transition," said John Austin, vice
president of the state board.
Austin wouldn't say what kind of state job Watkins might be steered to.
But he was adamant that if the situation wasn't resolved by Saturday, it
would be taken care of at the meeting.
"We cannot let the situation fester here of having a divided board, and
a board that does not have overwhelming support for the superintendent
... That is counterproductive."
Watkins has been state superintendent for four years.
The issue of Watkins' tenure has diverted attention from other important
education issues, said Tom White, who heads the K-16 Coalition for
Michigan's Future, a group made up of the leaders of education
organizations in the state.
"To the extent that this keeps us from focusing on those issues -- it
would be healthy and helpful to have them resolved," White said.
Watkins didn't answer many questions when reached Thursday. He said his
focus has been and will continue to be on raising the academic
achievement of children.
"My future is fine. We need to be worried about the future of the 1.6
million children" in Michigan schools. "That's where all of our time and
worry should be concentrated."
Asked whether he expected to remain as state superintendent, Watkins
would only say: "As it stands now, we're in a changing world. There's
some board members that support me and some that are not. That's the
nature of a board of education."
Granholm told the Free Press last week that her office asked Watkins to
resign in May and that Watkins agreed to do so by the end of the year.
The governor said Watkins has been an ineffective leader and hasn't done
enough to help poor-performing schools.
"The governor has made it clear that she would like Superintendent
Watkins to resign," said Liz Boyd, a Granholm spokeswoman. "She believes
that while he has been a great advocate for children and public
education, he's been an ineffective leader."
Contact LORI HIGGINS at 248-351-3694 or higgins@....
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