June 21, 2001 11:00 pm

Oregon Senate President Gene Derfler is out to get rid of the elected position of state superintendent of schools, currently held by Stan Bunn.

Derfler, a Republican from Salem, helped resurrect Senate Bill 1 on Monday that passed out of committee on a 4-3 vote. The bill, which is headed for the Senate floor, would make the governor responsible for overseeing the states educational system, instead of the voters electing a superintendent. Less anyone think that Derfler is alone in his quest to dump the position, former School Superintendent Norma Paulus has helped shepherd the reinvigorated bill onto the Senate floor. Both appear irritated at how Bunn has been running the department.

We disagree with those who would scrap the position just because some Republicans are embarrassed by some of Bunns antics. Both Bunn and Deputy Superintendent Kate Dickson have been the center of attention since they were questioned concerning expenses that were charged to the state. Both have either paid back the questionable amounts or are in the process of paying them back.

Bunn, who hails from Yamhill County, is a former legislator who had a private law practice before running for the statewide office. He is the brother of former U.S. representative Jim Bunn, who lost his position in Congress after only one term because of some questionable antics in Washington, D.C.

A PARTICULAR superintendents failure to live up to the publics expectations is no reason to dump the office in which he or she serves. We agree with former superintendent and current Sen. Verne Duncan, R-Milwaukie, who believes Derflers bill is a sneaky way around the real issue. Bunn has put some egg on the Republican Partys corporate face. So have a lot of other Republicans over the past several years. Plus Derflers proposal would put too much power in the hands of the governor, whichever party is in control of the office.

Since 1874, Oregons voters have been electing a school superintendent and todays Legislature isnt so enlightened that we should suddenly get rid of this post. Certainly neither Derfler nor Paulus should be considered to have that kind of wisdom.

We hope that cooler heads will right the Republican leaderships listing ship. Perhaps Senate Majority Leader David Nelson, R-Pendleton, should step forward and mediate a solution to the problem. Perhaps Bunn should resign the position and another Republican be appointed. We have to wonder if every time an elected official publicly makes a mistake if someone is going to suggest that we dissolve the position and give the job to the governor. If that were the case, we wouldnt have many officials in Salem running state government.

Perhaps Derfler and Paulus should reflect on the saying that He (or she) among you who is without sin may cast the first stone.