The News Editorial: Keep politics out of school board races
October 6, 2022
Partisan or non-partisan that is the question on the minds of many states the past few years and the topic has been school board elections.
In Wyoming municipal races and school board races are by statute nonpartisan, meaning candidates do not need to declare a party and for school board races no primary election is necessary.
I believe that is how it should be. The only politics in school should be in lessons in government, history or civic classes.
But, as I have noted before in this space, I would be in favor of the majority of races being nonpartisan.
On Monday the Washakie County Republican Party is holding a forum to vet the Republican candidates for school board. This means not all 14 candidates have been invited.
According to Party Chair Tami Young, they are following the Wyoming State and Washakie County Republican By-Laws, that state that the role of the Republican Party is to support and achieve the election of candidates who hold to those by-laws.
I appreciate that perspective, but the race is nonpartisan, even a state as red as Wyoming has not considered changing school board races to partisan races.
In 2017 Evan Crawford of the University of San Diego wrote that over the past five years (2012-2017) six states have considered legislation that would “either mandate their local school districts move to a partisan election model or allow districts to switch at will.”
Having non-partisan races opens the races up to candidates who may not otherwise seek office. Perhaps it is a conservative Democrat that would never be considered if they had to declare a party during filing but may be one of the best members a board has ever had. Boards and councils could miss out on these candidates and it limits their ability to serve their community.
The No. 1 question any school board member and candidate should ask themselves is if it is best for the students; not what is best for the staff, for the administration, the parents or even the board, but for the students.
That’s what the public education system is there for — the students.
The question is not what is best for Republican students, or Democratic students, or Libertarian students, conservative, liberal or moderate students but rather what is best for all students regardless of party affiliation.
Regardless of your party affiliation, Young said the forum is for “members of our community who belong to the Republican Party or who are members of our community looking to support candidates that align with and uphold most of the conservative platform values.”
So they offer a chance for you to get to know some of the candidates at 6:30 p.m. at the Worland Community Center
Local residents have also organized an informal meet and greet for all candidates the following night from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., also at the Worland Community Center.
The Northern Wyoming News has sent a questionnaire to all 14 candidates with profiles to be published on Oct. 27. If a candidate has not received a questionnaire please notify our office to ensure that you are included in that issue.