It’s time: The public deserves open caucuses in the Utah State Legislature

In 1981, I was in my 2nd year as a member of the Utah House of Representatives.  Although the experience had many positive aspects, one feature greatly troubled me: holding the Legislative political caucuses in closed session.  My frustration boiled, and in March near the end of the legislative session I addressed the Capitol rotunda full of educators about my frustration. My objection to closed caucuses focused on five faults which– ·       Avoids public scrutiny by allowing decision-making in a setting where the public cannot be present ·       Disenfranchises voters…

Kim Burningham: Be cautious about current talk of a special session

Capitol at night

Rumors are swirling.  Some sources are reporting a special session of the Legislature will be held next week.  Currently, the Governor has not called such a session.  I write in opposition to calling a special session and urge the Governor to refrain. At one point, the rumor mill suggested that a special session would be called to deal with SB 54, the compromise allowing political candidates to use an alternative system for getting on the ballot.  The current talk focuses on a different issue, the process for selecting State School…

Kim Burningham: Living peacefully in a world where people disagree

Recently, I was asked to identify my political affiliation.   The question caused me to pause.  I have always been a Republican; for 15 years I represented my area in the Utah House of Representatives as a Republican.  Still, I paused. Finally, I answered:  “I am still a member of the Republican Party, but I would be less than honest if I did not say I was hanging on by a thread.”  The reason for my vacillation has a great deal to do with the rigid dogmatism I find among some…

The People Want Non-Partisan School Boards

(Note: In this post, Burningham speaks in his own behalf. The point of view expressed in this blog does not necessarily represent any organization of which he is or has been a part.)   To my way of thinking, the issue is all about power! Those who desire partisan elections of school boards (state and/or local) want politicians to have the power.   Those seeking a governor appointed state board want the Governor to have the power. Those who want school board elections to remain non-partisan elections believe the power is…

It’s Time to Cease the “Tail Wagging” by the Anti-Common Core Crowd

(Note: In this post, Kim Burningham speaks in his own behalf. The point of view expressed in this blog does not necessarily represent any organization of which he is or has been a part.) A uniquely American phrase—the tail wagging the dog—can be traced to the late 1800s. In 2015, I note a modern application in Utah.   Some strident fringe groups have been shouting so loud about their fears of the common core that the whole education system has been shaken. This is unfortunate, and it time for such distortion…

Turning the Tide for Financial Support for Education

For years Utah has spent less per pupil than any other state in the country and our class sizes are larger. The picture is more dismal when one sees how public education expenditures have fallen as a percent of our personal income in the last two decades. In the new year signs of hope for turning the tide are appearing. Several highly visible individuals and groups are announcing their support for increased educational funding. A Salt Lake Tribune editorial, published December 27, 2014 verbalizes the hope: “LET 2015 BE THE…

The State School Board Should Be Chosen in Direct, Nonpartisan Elections

Last week was a monumental for the issue of the State School Board selection process. First, Judge Clark Waddoups of the Federal District Court ruled on September 6 that the existing system was unconstitutional!   On Thursday, September 11, he said the remedy was to include two of the lawsuit plaintiffs on the ballot. As a follow up, I have three questions: What is my response to the Waddoups ruling? What impact will the remedy have on this year’s election? How will the process change in the future?

Chicken Little and the ongoing NCLB Waiver Debate

Tomorrow, on Friday August 8, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) will vote on whether to extend the waiver to the requirements of No Child Left Behind. As I’ve noted previously, the cost of not passing the waiver would be an insubstantial portion of the state education budget, just $26.5 million in education funding from the federal government, or less than 1%. And yet, you’d think that the very future of education funding in Utah–all of it–was on the line.

Utah Should Reapply for the NCLB Waiver

In the August 8 meeting, the Utah State Board of Education will make an important decision. I earnestly believe Utah should reapply for the waiver from the onerous requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Frankly, the State Board is relatively divided on the issue. As I view the matter, however, the best course for Utah students is to seek waiver renewal. A perspective on NCLB and the waiver NCLB was instituted by the Bush Administration in 2002. (Interestingly, it was sponsored in the U. S. House of Representatives by…

Ten Utah Races To Watch On Primary Night

Early voting in the Utah Primary ends today, and the Primary Election will be on Tuesday, June 24. With no statewide or federal offices grabbing headlines, it might be easy to forget that there’s a primary at all. But there is, and here’s ten races that you should keep your eyes on.