GOP resolution calls for partisan election of state, local school boards

Published: Monday, April 21 2014 5:05 p.m. MDT

Harrington objected to the categorization that school board members are friendly to federal intrusion.

She said the state receives federal funding in a number of areas, such as transportation, and to criticize educators for accepting federal dollars suggests a misunderstanding of the economic realities facing Utah's schools.

"The federal government is not our enemy," Harrington said. "They are our partner, and like all good partners, we have to respect one another’s authority and jurisdiction. To the degree that the federal government steps on the state’s toes, I’m one of those that supports state’s rights enormously."

But Norton reiterated that partnership with the federal government leads to a loss of state sovereignty. He said one reason it was important to require candidates to be vetted by convention delegates was to "eliminate people with weak principles" who might compromise on community values.

"What the board members and the State Office (of Education) don’t understand or don’t seem to understand is that every federal dollar we get comes with strings that override local control," he said.

Harrington said the Utah School Boards Association has encouraging its members to contact delegates and urge their opposition toward the resolution. A spokesman for the Utah Education Association also said the organization remains opposed to making school board elections partisan.

"The nature of politics is such that it tends to introduce contention," Harrington said. "We don’t need that on our schools. We need teachers free from worry of whether they are party affiliates and whether they support the board in that respect."

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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