The Courier-Journal reports that Governor Steve Beshear has replaced Kentucky industrialist Billy Harper on the Kentucky Board of Education with Leo Calderon of Edgewood, Kentucky.
The newspaper provides no information on the appointee other than his residence, and neither the governor’s office nor the department of education have public news releases about the appointment available at this time.
At present, the only official information regarding the appointment is in the Kentucky Secretary of State’s web site. That is the appointment letter from the governor, which only identifies Calderon by place of residence.
However, a call to the governor’s office confirmed that Calderon is the Director of Latino Student Affairs at Northern Kentucky University. Mr. Calderon, a Latino himself, adds an interesting ethnic dimension to the board. However, that addition comes with an important price.
The appointment of an education person to replace a business and industry member of the board could be problematic. A check of the other current state board members’ bios reveals government and education people now predominate almost exclusively on the board. At a time when the state says it is going to focus education on what students need for college and CAREERS (emphasis added), the board’s present composition appears unbalanced, at best.
Fortunately, the governor still needs to fill two more vacancies on the state board. Hopefully, he will insure a business presence continues, though the absence of Mr. Harper is definitely going to be felt.
Harper frequently raised important, though challenging, points at board meetings. The appointment actions by the governor, intentionally or not, could send a message to other board members that asking tough questions is not acceptable. If this happens, it will be a real shame for our kids.
By the way, two other persons, David Karem of Louisville and Brigitte Ramsey of Falmouth, were also continued on the board, making Harper’s removal somewhat more ‘intriguing.’
A couple of technical notes:
First, the Courier’s article’s title is not accurate. The governor appoints individuals to the board, but not to the chairmanship of the board. The governor did reappoint David Karem, but while Karem currently does chair the board, the board itself selects its chairman. Karem might or might not be continued as chair later this year.
Second, the Greater Cincinnati telephone book only lists one person with a similar name to Calderon’s in the entire Northern Kentucky area. The phone book shows a Leonel Calderon lives at the address listed in the Secretary of State’s posting. Right now, the governor’s appointment letter identifies him as Leo Calderon. The governor needs to confirm Mr. Calderon’s legal name so a proper appointment can be made.