Education activists are looking forward to the introduction of Arizona State Rep. Mark Finchem’s bill; HCR-2001, which if passed change the State Constitution regarding the representation of the people on the State Board of Education. HCR-2001 redefines the State Board of Education to be an elected body as opposed to one occupied by unelected friends of the governor’s.
Finchem’s measure will replace the existing Board with a 15-member State Board of Education made up of the individual County Superintendents, and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, all of whom are elected. By virtue of their elected status, each is directly accountable to the people in their communities through the election process.
Finchem says that it was the fact that on August 1st 2016, “the State Board of Education voted to hand off power to ad hoc committees to develop a wide range of policies from teacher certification and accountability to public school operations. The idea that two members of the Board would have exclusive power to appoint individuals to those committees without further consideration of the full Board set off alarm bells in multiple legislative districts.”
Finchem argues that the “public school system belongs to the public and the policy that is developed by the State Board of Education must be done in an open, transparent and deliberative way. After all, if what the Board will act on is “public policy”, shouldn’t it be open to the public? Shouldn’t the full Board be developing policy? Secretive deliberations lacking in public involvement are responsible for bringing us such disasters as Common Core.”
Representative Finchem reports, “Constituents from all over the state have contacted me demanding to have a voice in determining who is leading the education of their children. HCR-2001 puts the matter to a vote, which if it passes will streamline government by removing a layer of appointed bureaucracy, and moves the selection of the State Board of Education members closer to the people. We already have elected local school boards, local superintendents and a state superintendent. We already have knowledgeable elected people in place in the form of the various county superintendents.”
Rep. Finchem also says, “Adding the responsibility of representation from each county on the State Board of Education to the duties of each of the 15 County Superintendents, accomplishes the addition of direct accountability to parents, while eliminating a layer of government. And for those who say that universities will not be represented at the table, I think that is a strawman argument. They will have the same representation as those people who are paying the bills, who are after all the voters.”