From: Wendy Hart
To: Dean Sanpei,
Subject: Vote Yes on HB228 and HB342
Date: Mon Mar 03 15:04:10 MST 2014
Dear Rep. Sanpei,

I would like to ask you to vote yes on HB228 and HB342.  While they seem like completely separate bills, I would like to provide a different perspective.  For nearly 100 years of Utah's history, what was taught in the schools was determined by parents and teachers.  In 1984, the State School Board took it upon themselves to establish standards, testing, and graduation requirements for every public school student in Utah.  Subsequently, the legislature codified that practice.  Where education used to be "distributed among the many", it is now concentrated among the few. 

While the State Constitution establishes the existence of the State School Board, the details of how they are elected, what their duties would be, and any method for checks and balances on their power are left entirely to the legislative branch.  In short, the details are left to you.

Under our current system, there is no method for checks and balances or vetting of decisions made by the State School Board.  Part of the uproar over the Common Core standards is the only method to modify standards (whether you agree with them or not) is to replace 8 members of the State School Board.  Unlike legislation that must pass two houses and be signed by the governor or a veto override, the State School Board dictates.  As long as there is funding, there is no check, balance, or division of powers. 

The reason these bills are coming before you, in part, is because parents while legally possessing " the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the ... education of their children" (Utah Code 62A-4a-201), are finding themselves in a secondary, supporting role, not a primary one.  If they are not pleased with the results of the standards and testing (which realistically means, the classroom instruction), they can't go to the teacher, the principal, the local school board, or even the legislature.  They must convince the majority of the State School Board to change their tune, to reconsider, to have an open mind.  There is no veto and no override once they have decided. 

The parents and the local communities need to have a voice.  There needs to be accountability not to the state, but to the parents.  There needs to be some sort of check and balance on the power of the State School Board.  Having partisan elections, and providing an open, transparent process that includes parents, teachers, and the community in setting standards will benefit us all.

Thank you so much for your service.


Wendy K. Hart
Mother, Highland Utah
Board Member, Alpine School District