Proposal would get rid of state school board in favor of single education official

Sen. Jim Dabakis says the Utah State School Board is a “catastrophe,” and it’s time to start over from scratch.

Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, is proposing a drastic change to Utah’s constitution. Instead of the 15 members of the board, as we have now, his SJR16 would create a state superintendent of public instruction, who would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

“Right now, the state board has a core of people who hate public education,” says Dabakis. “The board has been taken over by people who are turning it into an ideological bounce house.”

Dabakis says the decisions from the board are dominated by ideologues who are concerned with “petty issues” like Common Core and sex education. Instead, they should be concentrating on how to make education in Utah better. 

He also argues that his proposal would inject more accountability into the public education system.

“People think the governor runs the education system in Utah, but he doesn’t. I’d rather not give Gov. Herbert this power, but I don’t think we have any choice,” says Dabakis.

Dabakis adds the change would bring public education to the forefront, and make it a top campaign issue every four years. 

“If we don’t like the way public education is going, this will force the candidates to address the issue on the campaign trail,” he says.