To: Rep. McKell, M.,
Subject: Nine Reasons for Partisan School Board Elections in Utah
I appreciate you taking the time to consider nine reasons for supporting Rep. Brian Greene’s 2015 bill to change how Utah elects its board of education.
Only one or two reasons are included in this and subsequent emails so you don't have to spend too much time on each one. After the last reason is sent, I will send you a consolidated list of all nine reasons for your easy reference.
BACKGROUND - Federal judge Clark Waddoups ruled in 2014 that our current method of selecting candidates for the Utah Board of Education is unconstitutional. So, this year our House and Senate need to establish a better method. Although we have tried various methods of naming our state board of education, Utah has never tried electing school board members by the same trusted method we use to elect our governor, legislators, county commissioners and sheriffs. This method allows each neighborhood in the state to elect delegates to intensively evaluate each candidate and vote, in their party conventions, to select the best nominee for their party. These highly qualified and popular candidates then run in the general election.
REASON 1- Our school boards do not reflect the ideology of our people. In one of the most politically conservative states in the country, our state and local school boards are moderate to liberal. If you doubt this, just try to find one board which has passed a resolution opposing Utah’s adoption of national common core English language and math standards. Or, find one board which does not advocate raising state taxes to fund education at a higher level.
Current school boards in Utah are dominated by Democrat-leaning members. I see that from the inside as a recent county school board member. The legislative voting report card of the Utah School Boards Association (USBA) plainly shows that Democrats support USBA’s preferred bills much more than conservative Republicans do. That will not happen when school board candidates are chosen by our party delegates.
This bill will give our public education system the benefit of a republic. That is the process by which citizens choose well qualified and well informed representatives to make important decisions for them. It is a republican process to elect our most trusted neighbors in party caucuses to vet our candidates in their conventions.
Partisan elections will empower locally elected neighborhood delegates to choose school board candidates with the same values as the candidates they choose for other offices.