House Speaker Becky Lockhart says she wants the Utah State Superintendent job with the Utah Board of Education. Our "Political Insiders" say they're not so sure she's the right woman for the job.
Nearly half of Republicans and all of the Democrats on our panel say she's not qualified for the position. 83% of our readers also feel she's not the right person for the position.
When we asked whether they thought Lockhart would be appointed to the position, just 15% of Republicans thought there was a 75% or better chance. 44% of Democrats rate her chances at 75% or better while 28% of our readers feel that way.
Selected anonymous comments:
"Why should the school kids suffer because she wants a platform to stay in the public spotlight? Think of the children!"
"Speaker Lockhart's qualifications should be considered and compared just like any other candidate. The fact that she may not have all of the 'traditional' qualifications does not mean she is not qualified. It may be time to think past the 'traditional' qualifications to bring fresh ideas to the Board. I doubt many, or any, of the other candidates have her special qualifications, talents and experience."
"Absolutely not! This was a WTF moment when I read the first article about it. In what alternative universe does this make sense?"
"Full time educators haven't solved our problems yet; give her a chance to shake things up."
"Lockhart as State Superintendent is a frightening thought. She has no experience in public education, and based on her $300 million iPad-for-every-student push last session, she also has no grasp of educational reality. Her proposal didn't resonate with the real world needs of any teacher I've ever talked to. What wild-eyed agenda would she be pushing for public ed? I have a feeling we don't want to know."
"A couple of years ago, the legislature really started latching on to this idea that 'Hey, anybody can teach or run a school district…you don't need all that fancy book learning!' They did away with requirements for superintendents and business administrators. Essentially, the message was you don't have to be educated to educate. (Think about that for a minute) While I support the notion of alternative tracks for teacher licensure, and I am fine with school districts hiring attorneys to be superintendents – at some point, at the highest levels of governance you need an educator with an educational background. More importantly, you need a proven track record of improving education on a wide scale. Respectfully, the Speaker doesn't possess that background. She is very capable. It's just important that in Utah we start hiring and trusting experts again. The extreme right wing, which is dominant here, is terrified of education and the educated. Let's find a world class educational expert, make them accountable, and finally fund education correctly and equally here in Utah."
"The State Superintendent needs to be an unabashed public education supporter and advocate for the children who attend Utah's public schools. Becky Lockhart has not demonstrated those characteristics."
"I don't understand why she would even want the job. She would make a much better governor; but maybe she doesn't feel she can win the GOP nomination."
"Becky has a great vision and won't be the 'same old same old' of the past. She's a unique option for this position, but Utah needs someone unique and with vision for what education in Utah can and should be. She has the ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible. She has always prioritized education in the Utah budget while respecting the Utah tax payers. I think that Becky Lockhart would be a great choice for the Utah State Superintendent position."
"I believe she is completely unqualified to serve in this position. She has no experience as an educator, and her motives are purely political with no regard for the concerns of providing a solid education for our children. Additionally, I believe there is a significant conflict of interest in her drive to have electronic devices in the hand of our children, where the individual to benefit most at the taxpayers expense is her husband."
"She's a nurse, not an educator, do you think a teacher could be a nurse?"
"I'm having a hard time constructing a snarky comment that adequately illuminates the ridiculousness of Becky Lockhart applying to become the Superintendant. Sometimes there are just no words.."
"She is no more qualified to be directing public education, than I am in directing the entire nursing staff at IHC! Here's a good idea (wink! wink!): Let's have a person be our county sheriff that has spent his/her whole career working in a greenhouse!!!! And my dentist can be the next prison director! My husband is a CPA, which clearly qualifies him to be our next director of national parks and recreation. Or better yet, the next U of U medical school director. Come on, people. This is just laughable!!!! How embarrassing for the whole state when she wins. Herbert will give her the job to keep her from running against him. Remember the old saying: 'It's not WHAT you know… it's WHO you know'."
"It is critical to have someone who has experience in all levels of K-12 education to make an effective superintendent. We need someone who has walked in the shoes of teachers and administrators in order to make appropriate decisions for Utah's education."
"Speaker Lockhart has the leadership qualities, but we need a state superintendent who values public education. Speaker Lockhart values vouchers and charter schools, but she does not have a history of supporting public education."
"This is not a political position, and Speaker Lockhart has political motivations. We need someone who is a qualified professional educator who has one agenda–what is best for Utah's public schools."
"This position requires both a deep understanding of education law, theory and practice, and expertise in managing a large staff and budget — none of which she has. She should consider a city council position, or if she cares so much about education, she should go back to school to get a relevant education or apply for a mid-level job in a school district. If that isn't powerful enough, or it doesn't give her the limelight she desires, that is all the more reason to NOT have her in the education field. Her motivations are completely suspect."
"In terms of dealing with the Legislature during and between legislative sessions, she could represent the USOE very well, b/c she has relationships with legislators and is trusted by many of them. Whether she can totally understand the inherent experience in the classroom of teachers is unlikely as she has spent her years in health care and in the Legislature. It depends on who the other choices are before I would have an opinion. I have worked at the USOE, and especially been involved during the session, and they are a force to reckon with, with wildly divergent opinions about education. They also think that because they went to school, they understand the demands on teachers and education."
"Speaker Lockhart has shown great leadership and vision. She gets that STEM is our states future for jobs and an economy. Big thumbs up from me."
"Change is fine, but not revolution. It's okay to bring in an outsider, but it should be a consensus candidate, which Lockhart cannot be in the current polarized environment."
"She is an extremely talented and capable leader. It baffles me that with all of her qualifications and skills, she decided to apply for something that is such a bad fit with her education and background. It reminds me of when Mark Shurtleff applied to be president of the University of Utah."
"That she would even apply is an insult to teachers and administrators who have to have licenses, credentials, specific degrees, and certifications to teach and work."
"Not that it matters in Utah. If you're a Republican, you can pick and choose whatever job you're totally unqualified for. Remember, Shurtleff got fired from the AG's office before he ran for the office."
"Being a competent legislator is not the same as being a competent educator. We need someone focused on the educational needs of the children of Utah and has expertise in providing a quality education. I fear she will use a political agenda to guide her decision-making rather than effective educational practice."
"What she might lack in education qualifications, she makes up with her legislative and policy qualifications. A significant part of a Superintendent's job is dealing with the legislature, the State School Board and policy. This makes her a unique, but qualified candidate."
"We need someone who can coordinate and communicate with the legislature. Becky will be great."
"The Board of Education's biggest failure is an inability to work with the Legislature to get the appropriate funding for educational objectives. This would be a huge win for them to figure out the appropriations side of education and actually have a strategic plan that could be supported."
"Nothing speaks more eloquently of the GOP's brainless animosity towards public education than their belief that any unqualified yahoo can lead the BoE just so long as they're a Republican."
"Her only value would be her ability to get funding from the legislature. But, as we have seen, she can't do that while sitting in the speaker's chair; no reason to believe she could do it from any other."
"If Becky gets the job it will prove to everyone that the fix is in and that public education in Utah is in for a beating."
"This is a fascinating move on her part. Politically, it appears very smart, seeking a high profile job that will bolster her education credentials, her resume, and help her stay relevant if she chooses to pursue running for governor in 2020. If I were on the state school board however I would have serious questions whether this move is to push a conservative agenda such as vouchers, or is she truly trying to lend her considerable management skills and experience to help improve Utah's public education. The State School Board has lacked in effective legislative relations for some time, so she could certainly help in that respect."
"If you are a fan of educational privatization and charter schools and vouchers she is the best. She couldn't possibly be any worse choice for public education in this or any other state – the fix is in."
"A fresh set of eyes with a non systemic approach might be beneficial."