A federal judge ruled Utah's method for electing State School Board members is unconstitutional. Our "Political Insiders" are split on what the best method would be moving forward.
The Democrats on our panel overwhelmingly think direct, non-partisan elections are the way to go, as do our readers. Nearly half of the Republicans on the panel think direct partisan elections should be the preferred method.
Hardly anyone agrees that the members of the School Board should be appointed by the governor.
All three groups think that Utah's public education governance needs reform. 57% of Republicans, 90% of Democrats and 65% of our readers agree that governance needs to be studied and reformed. About a third of Republicans think the governor should have more direct oversight.
Selected anonymous comments:
"Just as oil and water don't mix, neither do education and politics."
"Partisan elections would be a poor option. People would only vote for the party; not for the individual."
"It's a farce to pretend that education has no relationship with politics. Every candidate for President, regardless of party, announces their education plans. The same is true of every candidate for Governor and the Legislature. To suggest that the State Board is somehow different is merely to ignore reality."
"Party politics have no place in public schools. Direct, non-partisan elections may pose other challenges, but the worst possible scenario would be partisan elections. Appointment by the governor is no better. Party politics would still play a major part in the selection."
"I fear that partisanship in education, especially at these high levels, would bring upon us the destruction of our freedoms and country faster than anything else we could do. Partisan bickering in Congress keeps us from acting too rashly. Partisan controls of schools would have the opposite effect."
"The GOP leadership's entire argument for both the current process and for partisan elections is that the public is too stupid to elect ultra-conservatives who want to damage and defund public education. Howard Stephenson constantly claims the candidates are much higher quality than before, but also continually rails against the board as holding back his profit-driven vision of educational 'progress.' The public still isn't buying any of it. We love our non-partisan school board and city council elections."
"I'm a Republican state and county delegate, and even I am amazed at how hyper-partisan everything has become. Let's do this just like we do most of our municipal elections – direct non-partisan elections. Just like I don't care if you're an R or a D as long as my trash gets picked up, I don't care if you're an R or a D as long as our kids get well educated."
"School funding and bills micro managing are already partisan in the state legislature. Implementation of said bills should be non-partisan."
"A better system is to let the school boards elect the state school board."
"I was in favor of non-partisan election, however, the Democratic Education Caucus in Weber County, has decided that they would select and support specific candidates and have tried to tilt elections. I feel that if they are going to get involved in that way, then it only appropriate that both parties be able to support their candidate of choice."
"No matter what happens, the top criterion must be that the candidates have taught, administered, or both in public or higher education. The less politics are involved the better and safer for our students."
"Keep political parties out of school boards! If you put an R next to someone's name everyone will automatically vote for them. If they have a D people will automatically not vote for them. Not fair."
"I shudder to think of what might happen should the State School Board ever become the domain of the Republican Party and/or the Governor."
"Direct partisan is the most honest."
"I'd prefer nonpartisan elections, but that is nearly impossible in Utah. So, if we can elect an equal number of Rs, Ds, and a mix of others, we'd have a chance for diverse ideas."