At a recent Davis School Board meeting, Precinct 3 candidates Newell Law and Lynn Summerhays stood up and introduced each other. And the two apparent friends admit they differ little on basic educational philosophy.
It is where philosophy ends and implementation begins that their positions diverge. While both Law and Summerhays support more local control of schools, they advocate different approaches.Law, 56, a Fruit Heights resident and development coordinator with Unisys, envisions a school board for every high school area in Davis County, to give the community more say in schools.
"The reason we have public schools is that we as families and individuals can do it better if we pool our resources. The schooling that's offered should represent the opinions and desires of the public that the schools are serving," Law said.
With community participation should come less "domination" by teachers. Law believes that teachers should stay out of policy development for their schools. That should be left up to elected officials.
"We must consult them (teachers) to get their input - it would be a total mistake to ignore them - but it appears they are dominating the data collection and recommendation process. There ought to be more people involved who are not in the education field, " Law said.
Summerhays, 40, a Farmington resident and project manager for the Boyer Co. had no comment about creating more local school boards but does support local task forces to address such issues as boundary changes, extended-day and year-round programs. He also supports teacher involvement in decision-making.
"We have good, bright and wise teachers in our district, and they should be involved in decision-making and policy development at all levels of our district school system," Summerhays said.
Law and Summerhays, both newcomers to school board elections, are running for the precinct seat that represents Centerville, Farmington, Fruit Heights, Kaysville and south Layton. Board member Henry Heath is not seeking re-election.
Summerhays, who has been endorsed by Heath and Davis Education President Kathie Bone, said he is running for the post because he believes "there are few better causes for volunteer service." Summerhays said he, through participation on several school district committees, is familiar with the challenges the district faces, including overcrowding, low teacher salaries and population growth.
Law and Summerhays both believe that school reform and policy has been inappropriately introduced at the highest level of government instead of at local schools. For example, neither likes the idea of the Legislature and state school board mandating an AIDS curriculum for all school-age children. However, Summerhays hasn't taken that position as far as Law. Law wants to study eliminating the state school board, while Summerhays said he didn't have enough facts to take a position.
Law, a member of the Fruit Heights Planning Commission, said he would vote to rescind a mandatory AIDS reporting policy recently adopted by the school district. Summerhays says he supports the overall intent of the policy but believes the mandatory reporting provision will have to be modified.
Law has also proposed a controversial idea to allow early exit from high school. Summerhays has taken no stand on the issue.