I told you I'd look into the candidates for school board this year, and I have. This year there are 37 applicants in 6 districts, most of whom filed on the deadline day. So who are these people? Are they knowledgeable about our public school system and the role they hope to play? Do they have hidden agendas or even publicly stated biases against public schools? Will the best candidates be forwarded on to the Governor by the Nominating Committee? Could there really be a subversive attempt to take over the State School Board or am I just being a paranoid loon? We'll soon find out, but here are a few things to consider.
As mentioned in previous posts, there are a record number of candidate filings and if the past is any indication there are certainly some candidates who are being sponsored by groups that don't have the best interests of public education in mind. It's a little difficult to say for sure who these people might be, but we can make a few connections and go from there. The point of this post is to point out that there exists the possibility for foul play, and it's up to the public to continue to be vigilant, demand a fair process and insist that the committee continue to allow the public to attend the meetings.
Consider that there are candidates who have obvious ties to Parents for Choice in Education (PCE) and a public position in favor of vouchers:
- Dave Thomas is a former legislator who received financial contributions from PCE and publicly supports vouchers.
- Bill Colbert, incumbent, was supported in his initial effort by PCE and publicly supports vouchers
- Lincoln Fillmore is the communications director for Parents for Choice and participated in debates glorifying vouchers.
- Mark Cluff, incumbent, was supported in his initial effort by PCE and publicly supports vouchers
- Erin Allen Madsen is the wife of Senator Mark Madsen who is another strong PCE and voucher supporter.
- Kyle Bateman is a trustee for Children First Utah, an organization giving "scholarships" to attend private schools, and closely tied to PCE
- Jill Rea (this one is a stretch, admittedly) is the sister of Stan Lockhart who is the state chair of the Republican party and a vocal supporter of vouchers.
Another list we could make would be the candidates who are involved with Charter Schools. I don't want to get into the debate that Charter Schools are public schools, I realize they are and there is much good to be said about them. It's no secret, however, that we do have independent Charter Schools that would prefer to be private, and would jump from charter to private status, so they could charge tuition and avoid public school accountability requirements, should vouchers ever become the law. Again, this is by no means meant to be a witch hunt; it's a search for objectivity as the Nominating Committee moves forward on June 2nd to make a final decision about whom they will promote as worthy for a public vote.
Charter school connected individuals and possible voucher proponents include:
- Susie Campbell Ashliman, former charter school board member
- Chris Dallin, Board Chair, Syracuse Arts Academy
- Dave Crandall, chair of the Board of Summit Academy charter school
- Ted H. Heap, husband of the founder of American Prep Academy, charter school
- David J. Adamic, husband of the Charter School board chair and charter school principal.
Susie Campbell Ashliman
Teresa L Theurer
H. Kay Chandler
Chris L. Dallin
Richard W. Sadler
Leslie Brooks Castle
Janice White Clemmer
Carlton A. Getz
Randall A. Mackey
Mark H. Swonson
Rose W Westover
Ralph J. Haws
Ted H. Heap
David J. Adamic
Erin Allen Madsen
Carol A. Murphy
C. Mark Openshaw
Alden LeGrand Richards