On Saturday, April 26, 2014, the GOP state delegates passed a resolution at convention asking GOP legislators to enact partisan school board elections for both the state school board and local school board members. Though there was no definitive tally made, visual estimates put the passing vote between 75-85% of delegates in attendance. The resolution did get amended to remove the last two paragraphs that dealt with the party engaging in non-partisan election efforts (which apparently they are barred from), so we need to get the party leadership and legislators all on board with this resolution (which was non-binding) so that next session we get partisan elections passed into law.
If you were among the delegates who voted for this resolution, thank you for taking the time to understand the real issues, the federal intrusion that Utah officials have already brought into the state, and recognizing the value of parents in their role as delegates vetting candidates.
Can you imagine a parent who wants non-partisan elections for school board members, actually spending even 15 minutes with each of 6 school board candidates to try and vet each of them and make an intelligent vote in a primary race to reduce the field? It isn’t going to happen among the masses. The one-party education establishment will always get their candidate through a primary because they can send out one email that gets their members out to the polls to vote. The absence of political parties from these races guarantees that each race will stay under the general control of the establishment.
The public at large has rejected partisan school board elections in a poll that was conducted some time ago. These numbers are touted by establishment players like the UEA in order to stop this movement toward partisan elections. The reason the public has rejected partisan elections is because they have not taken the time to understand the issue as delegates did coming to convention. It is evident that when locally elected delegates get informed on an issue and can understand it, they tend to make an informed decision, unlike an uninterested public. We might as well ask the public to take a survey on fracking that environmentalists put together as to ask us about partisan elections. The public just doesn’t have all the facts at hand. It is now incumbent on delegates and anyone who understands the issue to help your neighbors better understand it. I will be posting a master resource page soon that will have links to various resources you can use in this effort.
Here are the speeches I gave at the convention to help illustrate why the resolution needed to pass. Also speaking was Kim Kehrer who was a very qualified individual running for school board last time that made it to the final round where she was asked if she had issues with Common Core, and expressing some, was then eliminated. Also, an educator spoke in favor of the resolution.
Resolution opening speech
With Utah’s education budget over $4 billion, don’t tell me it isn’t partisan and politicized. The reason the education establishment doesn’t want partisan elections is they don’t want independent thinkers and ideas that could change the status quo which is the same tired path of blaming the legislature for underfunding education. The CATO Institution just released a study that shows over the last 40 years, we’ve tripled education spending (link to CATO report) and actually had a decline in SAT scores.
It’s time we gave the same scrutiny to the education system in Utah, that made Utah the best managed state in the union. The superior caucus and delegate system lets a broad cross section of parents, vet candidates for principles and ideas that will spark new life into our education system. To accuse us of wanting to put party above the welfare of our own children is a desperate plea to maintain political power.
And if you want to compare us to Texas, use demographic information and remember, at least they are free to innovate.
I ask that you vote for this resolution which gets our local neighborhoods more involved in the process.
Note: The reason for the inclusion of the Texas line was because the USBA (Utah School Boards Association) had made talking points for educators around the state and they were at the convention passing out a flier which basically said Utah was superior to Texas in several areas such as the percentage of graduates and other such stats. I didn’t put Texas in the resolution because they were superior, but because they have partisan elections, they rejected Common Core and they are now free to innovate with their own standards.)
Resolution closing speech
Two years ago, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a new federal grant program that local school districts could bypass the legislature and state office of education. Five Utah school districts applied for that money with strings attached.
Two months ago, two senior officials at the Utah State Office of Education sent a letter to educators around the state asking them to oppose a bill that would have replaced Common Core saying, “This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, and would prevent us from adopting any national standards.” That bill failed as did the partisan election bill they opposed.
State education officials also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the feds when Utah agreed to move forward on Common Core, acknowledging a federal role in Utah education.
Don’t tell me the establishment doesn’t welcome federal control or have practically unchallenged power.
We need partisan elections to challenge the establishment. We are parents before we are Republicans and we are best qualified to find principled candidates for our children’s school boards. Please vote for this resolution.
Note: The same USBA flier mentioned above talks about how they don’t want federal control and how these people who run our education system are for local control in education. The most vocal individual from the USBA on this issue is former state superintendent Patti Harrington, one of the primary authors of the USBA flier, and who was one of the two signatories on the Memorandum of Understanding that acknowledged to the federal government they have a role in Utah’s education system. What irony… Governor Huntsman was the other signer. Ahhh, but what meaning do words have… We’ll just tell the people we favor local control because we do have it as long as we let the federal government have a role and dictate a *few* things to us.