School board sham

Time to end undemocratic process
This is an archived article that was published on in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The superfluous State Board of Education nominating committee is nothing but an extraneous barrier between Utah voters and the people who want to represent them on the state board.

The fact that the committee has decided to take out of the hands of voters the decision of whether to re-elect incumbent board members is clear evidence that this undemocratic process should be shelved. A direct, nonpartisan election should take its place.

The committee this week decided that Janet Cannon, who has been chosen four times by her constituents to serve them on the board, will not be re-elected. If voters were allowed to return Cannon to her seat, they would be making a mistake, according to the committee chairman. And he and his cohorts won't let that happen.

They ruled that Cannon, despite her popularity among voters, is not as qualified as other applicants for the job. They also rejected a first-term incumbent, Carol Murphy.

For 12 committee members to take that responsibility away from voters is outrageous, arrogant and, of course, reflective of the power of conservative Republicans in the Beehive State, Republicans who want to micromanage all phases of public education despite their lack of knowledge about it.

They were thwarted in efforts to privatize schools when a law doing just that was soundly defeated by referendum. The Utah Constitution states: "The general control and supervision of the public education system shall be vested in a State Board of Education."

That mandate sticks in the craw of legislators. And so they continue underfunding education and controlling everything about it, starting with membership of the board constitutionally authorized to oversee education in the state.

Under the current system, the committee chooses three candidates, whose names are sent to the governor. He then winnows the slate to two candidates for each open seat. Only at that point can voters chime in.

It's time they took back the election process.