To: Rep. McKell, M.,
Subject: Reasons 4 & 5 for Partisan School Board Elections
REASON 4 - Ever since George Washington advised Americans to avoid political parties, we have instinctively felt political parties are harmful. And why not? Of course we always fear and dislike the opposing parties. We are even disappointed with the positions of some in our own party. On the surface we may think we do not like political parties, but deeper consideration reveals that our political system benefits from party organization and the information parties make available to voters.
Government policy and candidate qualifications are highly complex matters which are difficult for typical voters to decide on. The platforms of principles which parties adopt help voters more easily decide which candidates they will support.
As a legislator you have certainly heard requests from constituents for help correcting a problem which is really the responsibility of a local school board or even the state board. Have you asked yourself why citizens come to you instead of addressing the more appropriate elected official? I think you’ll agree it is because elected school board members are not as well-known as legislators. But they should be and could be. If they were elected by the same robust process as legislators they would be as well-known and would be held as accountable as legislators.
Just as partisan elections produce well-screened, qualified and popular legislators, governors, sheriffs etc. who are held accountable to voters, so also would they produce similar board of education members. PARTISAN is not a four-letter word.
REASON 5 - For decades the Utah legislature and the state board of education have been at loggerheads over how to approach public education. The state board has blamed the legislature for micromanaging education and failing to adequately fund education. On the other hand the legislature has accused the state board of not implementing the real intent of some education legislation. This finger pointing and lack of trust has certainly obstructed the improvement Utah might otherwise have made in education.
The best way to resolve this problem is to make the state board of education accountable to the same party delegates as the legislature is. When both are held to the same standard, they will more likely pursue the same goals and work together in synergy to provide outstanding public education.