State GOP Resolution on Partisan School Board Elections

This resolution will be presented and voted on at the state GOP convention on 4/26/14. It is being attacked by the education establishment who misunderstands the point of partisan elections is to find people of principle by looking closely at candidates who are running for office, not creating a partisan atmosphere of contention. There is a serious problem in this state that people just do not know who is running for school board. Candidates at the state level rarely get to even let their voices be heard as they are drowned out by a governor appointed committee who eliminates candidates who have any issues with Common Core. Candidates at the local level put up yard signs and rarely get any segment of the public vetting them except for the UEA and State Office of Education who pick their candidates and promote them through their channels because they are philosophically in agreement, but don’t want any serious competition or elimination by the best people qualified to make those decisions…delegates elected in neighborhood caucus meetings. What these education establishment people fail to recognize over and over again is that when you take federal money it comes with strings attached that damage local control.

Here is the resolution. Please contact your state delegates and ask them to vote in favor of this resolution.

USBA executive Patti Harrington wrote an urgent letter to educators around the state which I have posted below the resolution.

******************

Resolution to Promote Partisan School Board Elections

WHEREAS, Abraham Lincoln said, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will become the philosophy of government in the next;” and,

WHEREAS, experience shows that the views of school board members find their way into the classroom; and,

WHEREAS, most citizens do not know how school board members view important issues such as religious freedom, state and family sovereignty, private property, Second Amendment, limited government, and American Exceptionalism; and,

WHEREAS, the Republican Party has an excellent vetting system by which grassroots-elected delegates can identify who among the candidates will best adhere to the principles in our party platform, most notably the principles of fiscal responsibility and local control of education; and,

WHEREAS, approximately 65% of our state budget goes to education; and,

WHEREAS, school district budgets, whose district officers are determined via non-partisan elections, in some cases exceed county budgets, whose county officers are determined via partisan elections; and,

WHEREAS, most school board members seem to welcome federal control of education, and fail to understand that states are (or should be) sovereign with respect to education; and,

WHEREAS, in Texas—where school board elections are partisan—when “Common Core” was presented to the states, Texas rejected it and created their own high-quality standards; and,

WHEREAS, choosing school board members via partisan election is not about partisanship in education, but is about ensuring the selection of candidates whose principles match those found in the party platform.

WHEREAS, state school board nominees are currently selected by an unelected panel—unaccountable to the People.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT, legislators affiliated with the Utah Republican Party are encouraged to enact and support legislation that would make candidates for Utah’s State Board of Education and school districts subject to partisan nomination and election; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT delegates to the Utah Republican Party Convention are encouraged to research and vet state and local school board candidates, in order to identify the candidate(s) who will best support limited government and local control of education; and,

[these next two paragraphs were amended out of the resolution at convention because they were considered violations of the party constitution or bylaws or something because they asked that the party get involved in non-partisan races when they are only charged to do partisan races. Once the state passes partisan elections, then the party can do these debates]

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the Utah Republican Party is encouraged to host debates for state school board candidates and conduct a straw poll among state delegates, wherein state delegates living within a given state school board district may cast a non-binding vote for their choices of state school board members, and that the results of this straw poll be made public on the party web site; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT county parties are encouraged to host debates for school board candidates and conduct straw polls among county delegates, wherein county delegates living within local school board districts may cast a non-binding vote for their choices of local district board members, and that the results of these straw polls be made public on county party web sites.

Respectfully submitted to the Utah Republican Party on March 26, 2014

Oak Norton, HI 07
Kimberly Park, TA 11
Jennifer Orten, HI 06
Tina Okolowitz, Orem 38
Marie Nuccitelli, LE16
Aaron Hymas, MAG004
Joshua Kostial, FA02
Stephanie Stevens, AL04
Darlene Agle, PG10
Heather Williamson, SR07
Carie Valentine, SY05
Eric Eades, SAN 42
Robert Taylor, WJD 13
Robert Lunt, SLC138
Michele Alder, NLG5
Dale Asay, HI07
Whitne Strain, BO18
Kevin Braddy, HI 03
Renee Braddy, HI 03
Rod Terry, HI 01
Russ Skousen, HI 01
Dawn Kenton, RPL26
David Beck, HI 06
Steve Christiansen, HI 01
Lowell Nelson, HI 05
Loni Schneider, CL 02
Malin Williams, EN82
Leslie Probert, Provo 28
Jared Carman, HI 01
Alisa Ellis, HN 24
Nathan Davis, SY05
Michelle Davis, SY05
Amy Burton, HYR 05
Kassandra Mulcahy, SAN042
Keri Witte, PR20

************************** ADDED 4/22/14

That ends the resolution. Utah State Boards Association member Patti Harrington sent out this email in response. All bolding is hers. Text in red is where Patti calls me a liar and then an agitator. The big problem with her statements is they are demonstrably false. Patti and I actually go back several years. When she was State Superintendent a few years ago, we held regular meetings with her, Brenda Hales, Senator Margaret Dayton, and a few others regarding math education in Utah and getting Investigations math, Connected math, and Interactive math, removed from the state’s approved curriculum list. She helped remove the first 2 but never got the third removed. We actually saw eye to eye on these issue and to her credit (perhaps under some duress) she agreed to raise the state math standards in 2006 in front of a legislative education committee. Success! Then I engaged with the state’s history standards and wanted to get the word “republic” put into our history standards so teachers would teach that we are a Republic and not a Democracy. After that success along came Common Core, the nationalization of education, which Patti and everyone at the USOE loved. That’s 3 issues, but in Patti’s letter I’m “regularly agitated.” No, I just don’t retire from an issue easily. Someone is worried and upset…

The USOE loves Common Core’s nationalization so much, two officers sent out a letter during the last legislative session touting how HB 342 on getting new education standards was such a big negative it has to be opposed. They wrote:

“This bill essentially gives more power to parents over curriculum standards, would prohibit us from adopting any national standards, and would require a revision of our current math and ELA standards.”

Oh for shame! More power to parents?!?!?! What on earth are we thinking wanting to get away from Common Core!  Prohibited from adopting national standards??? The horrors!

And Patti writes below how I’m a liar and they all want local control…

What these school board members and associations seem to fail to grasp is in their quest for more money in education, they have turned to the federal behemoth who happily hands out our own money with strings attached. “Sure, take these millions of dollars, we just want your children to be tracked, dumbed down, and owned by us.” Oh, but it comes out more like “we’re from the government and we’re here to help. Those were state-led standards we…, err…, the NGA and CCSSO gave you. Yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Here is Patti’s letter.

 

From: “Patti Harrington” <pharrington@usba.cc>
Date: Apr 18, 2014 8:38 AM
Subject: Please OPPOSE proposed Republican Convention resolution on partisan elections for board members

Good morning Board Members (with copies to Superintendents and Business Administrators) —

There is a new resolution that will be proposed in the 2014 Utah Republican Nominating Convention on April 26, 2014 that you may want to review asap.  Your Utah School Boards Association (USBA) leaders are asking that, for those of you who are Republican, to contact your Republican delegates immediately and ensure they vote NO on the Resolution to Promote Partisan School Board Elections.  Here is some helpful background:

  • The resolution is titled Resolution to Promote Partisan School Board Elections and is at the end of this email and can also be found on the Utah Republican Party website at:  http://www.utgop.org/utgop.asp

where you can “click here to view submitted Amendments and Resolutions that will be considered at the convention.”  It is the fourth displayed item.

  • Astoundingly, the resolution states that “. . . most school board members seem to welcome federal control of education, and fail to understand that states are (or should be) sovereign with respect to education, . . .”  and then resolves that “legislators affiliated with the Utah Republican Party are encouraged to enact and support legislation that would make candidates for Utah’s State Board of Education and school districts subject to partisan nomination and election . . . “   Contrary to that blatantly false claim, USBA has always believed in local control and has consistently advocated that the best decisions are made at the local level.  In the 2009 Legislative Session, USBA initiated a bill with supportive legislators: HJR11 Joint Resolution Expressing Support For and Recognizing the Value of Locally Elected Officials (M. Brown).  The bill resolved “that the Legislature recognizes that the close connection of locally elected officials to their communities creates an atmosphere of high accountability in administering fiscal and other important matters.”   The bill passed unanimously in both Utah’s Senate and House.  See: http://le.utah.gov/~2009/bills/hbillenr/hjr011.pdf
  • The resolution to be considered by the upcoming Republican convention has only 6 sponsors listed in support.  The chief sponsor is Oak Norton, a resident of Utah County who remains regularly agitated about public education.   He is leading much of the anti-Common Core fight.
  • USBA has been vitally involved in resisting federal mandates and has been in this discussion for over the last decade when No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was first enforced from Washington DC to Utah’s classrooms.  USBA remains steadfast in support of local control and strongly supportive of public schools being operated by state and local leaders and educators, with policy and regulation by the independent Utah State Board of Education.
  • The new Utah Core standards in Language Arts and Math were largely developed from the common standards developed by the National Governor’s Association (NGA), led by a Republican Governor, and by the Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO), working in tandem toward greater rigor and career relevance in standard formulation.  There were no White House officials or U.S. Dept of Education officials in these meetings or working on the standards.  These standards were adopted by the Utah State Board in 2012, following public hearings, and are being implemented across the state.  The State Board has amended some of these standards and added to them, as is the full right of a State Board to control all standards.  The new SAGE tests were developed to measure a child’s ability in each standard and to give excellent prescriptive information to parents, students and teachers, the key users of any test data.  Data are stored and protected according to state and federal law, and by further regulations set forth by the State Board.  Student data have been without security breach for over a decade.
  • Partisan politics has no place in the State Board and certainly not in our local school boards of education.  A bill to support partisan state school board elections in the most recent legislative session was strongly opposed by USBA and it failed.  This Republican resolution concerning local school boards clearly does not reflect the view of Utah’s public and the parents whose children attend our neighborhood schools.

In order to oppose this resolution, you will need to contact the Republican delegates and state leaders from your area that are invited to attend the 2014 Utah Republican Nominating (State) Convention on April 26, 2014.  Thus, your contact must occur before April 26th.  Delegate contact information can be found by calling your county offices and asking for the names of your county Republican delegates.  Thank you!

*************

Oak again: please contact your state delegates and ask them to support partisan school board elections and bring new ideas and new leadership to school boards all across Utah.

9 Responses to State GOP Resolution on Partisan School Board Elections

  • Derk Palfreyman says:

    So done with common core. Thanks for sponsoring this legislation. You can count on my support and our other state delegate as well
    sincerely Derk Palfreyman

  • Julie M says:

    It’s funny to me that she calls Oak agitated, when in reality it seems that Patti Harrington is the one who appears “agitated”. I believe that the more truth that is exposed about these programs and the people that are in step with them, the angrier and more defensive they will become. It’s kind of like poking at a hornets nest and I say, let’s keep poking!

  • Ed Barfuss says:

    Thanks Oak for printing both the resolution and Ms. Harrington’s response. The resolution sounds very reasonable and it appears the folks at the USBA & USOE honestly believe that they support local control over education. As President Reagan once said, “The trouble with my liberal friends is that so much of what they believe isn’t so.”

    • Kay says:

      It seems Ed that the trouble with very right wing GOP friends is that so much of what they believe isn’t so! So many people have judged Utah core based on what others have said and haven’t even read a lick of the core. Why don’t you all get educated on what is in there instead of believing extreme views of others.

      • Oak Norton says:

        The trouble Kay, is that the myth keeps being promoted that we haven’t read the standards and are focused on them. That’s only 10% of our concerns. The other issue is, we’ve actually read source documents and have connected the dots. And by the way, stereotyping people isn’t wise when the New York teachers union and the NEA president have come out against Common Core and testing, the president of the NEA calling it “completely botched.”

  • Brian Colton says:

    I am a State Delegate. At this point, still straw polling my district through Facebook and other means, I am voting for the resolution for several reasons. First of all, Ms. Harrington, the resolution does not bind any Board of Education candidate, it merely vets them in a more public way. Why are you afraid of vetting School Board candidates? If the resolutions you support are strong and locally viable, why is shining the light on them a problem? You use the word “Partisan” in the typical left wing way. I do not like the name of the resolution for this reason. The resolution should be titled: “Resolution to promote appropriate vetting of School Board Candidates in their respective neighborhoods”. Because, I read the resolution myself, and this is basically what it says. You can hate “Common Core” or be for it. Take away Federal Government control of education, and there might be some positive curriculum suggestions there. But, the bottom line, there is nothing wrong with further shining the light of truth on School Board Candidates unless your agenda is subversive in the first place. Partisan politics may not play a totally positive role, but this resolution brings our neighborhoods and communities more into the classroom which does.

    • Oak Norton says:

      Excellent comments Brian. Thank you for supporting this resolution to promote appropriate vetting of school board candidates. :) Oh, in their respective neighborhoods. :)

  • Julie Garner says:

    I am a state delegate and a mother of four children. The Common Core seems to be just one more way of giving away local rights in exchange for government control. I want my children to be taught the values and morals I believe in and not what the Federal Government deems to be okay. Common Core seems like a huge step to a dystopian society.

  • Heidi Bailey says:

    I wrote some pretty stellar letters to the representatives who were voting on making the state school board elections partisan. If it is the governor who ultimately determines who the candidates are going to be then is it not safe to assume those candidates would reflect his beliefs? That’s kind of a no brainer.

    I am running for Alpine School District School Board Seat 5. Educating myself on the issues I will be campaigning for has been eye opening. While I am wholly opposed to Common Core I am beginning to believe that because the public has been so indoctrinated as to the “virtues” then there needs to be a paradigm shift as to the credibility and believability by proponents of Common Core on the school board. Do they investigate for themselves or only put their faith and trust in those who tell them that Common Core is good. More importantly is the lack of loyalty to their constituents replaced with loyalty to the district and what the district thinks is best. I know that two board members were basically threatened with censure.
    This is an uphill battle. Parents need to be awakened from their “misplaced faith” in the workings of the district and in some instances complacency and begin to have their heads cleared so that will be be informed and willing to stand up and storm those board meetings and fight for their children. I see this election as an education of parents, grandparents and voters in general.

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