[UPDATED] BUZZ: Official State Office Of Education Blog Endorses Candidates


[UPDATED 5-13-2014 3:20 PM: Superintendent Martell Menlove responded on the USOE Official Blog:

Yesterday a post was published on the UtahPublicEducation.org blog that contained personal opinions that are inappropriate for posting on this site. I appreciate those who brought this to our attention and apologize for this mistake.

We have reviewed our procedures for posting documents we receive and believe our procedures will assure that a similar mistake is not made in the future. If anyone finds any items on any Utah State Office of Education website that they find objectionable, I invite you to contact me personally.

The original Burningham post no longer appears on the site, but a screen shot can be found below.]

[UPDATED 5-13-2014 3 PM: LG Spencer Cox commented on Facebook that “my office believes this was a violation and the blog post has been removed. We will be working on the appropriate response.”]


Monday, Utah Board of Education blog posted member Kim Burningham’s endorse two candidates for the Davis County school board and a candidate for the Utah legislature. 

On Monday, UBOE Member Kim Burningham sent out a message to his extensive email list supporting certain candidates for political office, including two for the school board in Davis County and a candidate for Burningham’s home legislative district.

Then things went a bit awry: the Official Blog of the Utah State Board of Education and Utah State Office of Education posted the email in its entirety on their site (find a screen shot of the post below).

Over Twitter, Joel Wright pointed out the post to Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and questioned if it was allowable for the official blog–a state resource and mouthpiece–to be used to endorse candidates.

First off: how’s that for awesome customer service from the LG? Nice job, Lieutenant Governor Cox!

Second, and more importantly, why is a member of the UBOE using state resources to promote his candidates of choice?

Kim BurninghamThe Office Blog is an acceptable place for promotion of ideas, policies,  and news from the Board and Utah State Office of Education.

It is not, however, a place for use of state resources to promote certain candidates, especially those preferred by one Board member.  Burningham, and the USOE staff that probably autoposted Burningham’s email without reading it, ought to be more careful to address the inappropriate use of state resources.  

With the UBOE making a very real, and apparently sincere, effort to conduct a thorough and transparent search for a new superintendent, it can be hoped that new leadership will clean up some of the dysfunctions and competencies shortfalls of the office.  Utah education is hampered by partisan actions like those in the Burningham post.

Back in April, Burningham advocated keeping Board elections nonpartisan. 

If that’s what he wants, the USOE’s Official Blog should not be a place where Burningham can grind his partisan ax.

Indeed. What role does it play?

As far as the Board of Education goes, only so far as the members allow it.

Already Board members Heather Groom and Jeff Moss have gone on the record that such behavior is inappropriate. One can only hope that the posting was a mistake, and that the selection of a new superintendent can prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future. Right now, it’s not clear that the UBOE, though, is working cohesively to provide such direction to the staffers at the USOE.



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