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Michigan schools chief decision due by Saturday

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  • Charles C. Primas
    Michigan schools chief decision due by Saturday Watkins could get another state job January 28, 2005 BY LORI HIGGINS FREE PRESS EDUCATION WRITER
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 28, 2005
      Michigan schools chief decision due by Saturday

      Watkins could get another state job

      January 28, 2005



      Tom Watkins could be out of a job by Saturday, but on his way to
      starting another.

      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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