Board of Education members leery of plan to give control to governor

The Utah Senate has passed a proposal to transfer control of the state’s public and higher education system from the Utah State School Board to the governor. The resolution needs to pass by a two-thirds majority in the House to be placed on the 2012 ballot. Former State Senator and current State School Board member Dave Thomas says the only reasons given by supporters are that students do better when a governor is in control and that funding is easier to get. He says both of those claims have proven to be false. “Neither of those two explanations make any sense,” Thomas said on KVNU’s For the People program Wednesday, “which makes you wonder what’s really behind this and whether it’s about silencing the independent, elected voice of the State Board of Education.” Thomas says a recent survey by Dan Jones and Associates shows that by more than two to one Utah residents are against turning education over to the governor. Republican Senator Stuard Reid of Ogden says the governor is better suited to create a competitive system than a separately-elected school board. Another member of the Utah Board of Education, Tami Pyfer, says she has not really heard a valid reason for such a proposal. “Cynical people that talk to me say that this is revenge for vouchers not passing,” Pyfer said when she called in to the program Wednesday. “I don’t know why they would take that out on the school board, but on public education in general. I don’t know. “I wasn’t really involved during that time. I don’t know. Maybe it’s a lot of really well-meaning people making some really bad decisions.”

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