Save Utah's School Board
The Utah legislature has attempted to take control of the state school board for years.
They tried to take representation out of voter's hands and have the Governor nominate candidates. That was deemed unconstitutional.
They then passed a bill to make the school board election partisan, meaning party ideology could control the school board. Educational policies should not be decided by party delegates and education should be a non-partisan issue. This attempt is currently being challenged in court and is likely to be deemed unconstitutional.
In an unlikely pairing, Sen. Jim Dabakis (D-SD2) and Rep. Dan McCay (R-41) are co-sponsoring SJR16. This bill would put a constitutional amendment before voters to eliminate the school board and replace them with a superintendent who is appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate.
While it's certainly possible that this action could remove the influence of some extreme members of the current school board body, imagine the result if Utah elected an extremist governor and extremist Senate. How would voters be able to impact the decisions of a superintendent who isn't beholden to them but is only beholden to the governor and senate? How might members of minority parties and disadvantaged communities find representation in this appointee? It's important to have a diverse, representative citizen group serving to advise and discuss education issues, which is so integral to good policy making and overall direction for our public schools.
Why does Utah Cultural Alliance care?
The State School Board intimately impacts arts and humanities education. Just last year, they tried to make arts, health, and PE optional for middle schoolers. We fought back and BECAUSE THEY ARE ELECTED OFFICIALS BEHOLDEN TO THEIR CONSTITUENTS, they responded to the outcry from voters and decided to keep arts, health, and PE required courses. Had an appointee made a similar decision, our mode of recourse would have been extremely limited.
What can you do about it?
The bill sailed through the senate on Monday 22-6. The no votes were Gene Davis, Lyle Hillyard, Jani Iwamoto, Karen Mayne, Daniel Thatcher, and Todd Weiler. If they represent you, thank them.
Contact your member in the house immediately and ask them to vote no. Because it would be a constitutional amendment, this bill must receive a 2/3 vote in the house in order to be sent to the November ballot for voters to ratify. The legislature ends March 8th at midnight and this bill could be voted on any time between now and Thursday so please contact ASAP.