It's pretty simple. We currently live in a one-party state, and even the honest Democrats will admit that the winners of the highest statewide offices are generally corporatists and not progressives (thought I have seen NO evidence that so-called progressives would actually be any better at governing).
Our Secretary of Education gets picked, routinely, by a corporate lackey, and is immediately the flack for Rodel, Race to the Top, Component V, Common Core, and whatever else is the Reform de Jure that Vision
So let's try a thought experiment. What would be the downside?
Education is entirely too technical and too important to trust to the will of the electorate, who might be deceived and pick some sort of demagogue instead of a skilled steward of the public good.
Yeah. That's right. That's why we elect the Attorney General, the State Treasurer, the Insurance Commissioner, the Mayor of Wilmington, and, you know, the Governor. Because none of those offices actually require any sort of specialized knowledge or training to execute.
The best arguments that an elected Commissioner of Public Education couldn't be any worse than what we're getting now? Jack Markell, Chip Flowers, Karen Weldin Stewart ...
The only decent Secretary of Education that Delaware has ever had since the post was created was Valerie Woodruff. Valerie screamed at people when they didn't do what she told them to do. She was a control freak. Trapped with you in a bear trap, she'd chew off your leg to get out.
And she actually spent eight long years fighting for Delaware children, unlike the totality of the other incumbents in this position before and after her, who all considered Secretary of Education as a stepping stone to better things in bigger states. Valerie left DOE and retired. She always said she'd have kept working if someone would have let her be a principal and go back and show them how it was done, and I always wished someone had taken her up on the idea. She'd have kicked ass.
The rest? Pretty much losers.
How about this one?
Electing a Commissioner of Public Education would politicizing the process.
Yeah, right. Education isn't politicized enough for you now, huh? Suppose somebody actually had to campaign around the state and answer questions from parents ahead of time about what they'd do for, with, and to their kids? Suppose they had to get their record vetted by the public, not a complacent and paid-off General Assembly that didn't even bother to question the last nominee for more than 45 minutes?
You could make it, like school board elections, a non-partisan election, but it's really not necessary.
God how I'd love to see the primaries for Commissioner of Public Education.
But here's the real reason why we won't see an elected head of Delaware public education:
The reformers know that if their many claims and much-vaunted strategies had to be put to the test before the voters, they'd fail.
Yes, it's really that simple.