Differing perspectives on job

The candidates for state superintendent of public instruction promise that their background and expertise can make the most of a job with no power or management duties.

Democratic incumbent June Atkinson and Republican Richard Morgan come at the job from different perspectives.

Atkinson is a former teacher who retired from the state Department of Public Instruction as director of instructional services. She uses the superintendent's office to talk to the public about ways to improve education.

“I brought to the forefront of many people that we must improve our graduation rate,” she said.

Morgan, a former co-speaker of the state House, said his long career in politics makes him the best candidate to serve as a liaison to legislators, who decide how much state money to devote to education.

“The value of having put together at least 18 budgets makes me uniquely qualified,” he said.

Though the title “state superintendent” gives the impression that the holder plays some management role, the office has no legal authority to run the state Department of Public Instruction.