Republican Fung wants changes to education board

Republican candidate for governor Allan Fung on Thursday said he wants to make changes in how the state's educational institutions are governed, including requiring the state education commissioner to report to the governor and installing a board of trustees at the University of Rhode Island.

Fung, the mayor of Cranston, also wants two separate education boards one for kindergarten through 12th grade and one for higher education. That's how it was until the General Assembly voted in 2012 to merge them.

He called the plan "part one" of his education reform platform. He said he will release several other parts that touch on areas such as science and math education, although he did not provide details.

Fung also complained that in many of the state's endeavors, from education to the economy, different parts of state government are not working together.

"I have seen a lack of an overall vision of where we want to go as a state," he said.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a Democrat, is not running for a second term. Fung faces Moderate Party founder and businessman Ken Block on the Republican side, while General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Clay Pell, grandson of the late Sen. Claiborne Pell, and Todd Giroux are running on the Democratic side. The primary is Sept. 9.

On education, Fung said having the state education commissioner report directly to the governor rather than to a board would lead to greater accountability. The commissioner and the two education board would comprise his "education cabinet" he said.

He also proposed a separate group, to be called his "Jobs and Education Cabinet," which would include business and education leaders, among others, to recommend the skills students will need in the workplace.

Fung also said he would work to establish a board of trustees at the University of Rhode Island, and to eventually build an endowment, which he said would help reduce costs to taxpayers.