By Ben Velderman
ANYWHERE, USA – Most Americans don’t like taxes – it seems to be in our DNA.
Since that anti-tax sentiment typically grows stronger when the economy is bad, it won’t be surprising if a number a school-funding ballot proposals get nixed when voters head to the polls in November.
But here’s the rub: Anti-tax voters can defeat costly K-12 ballot proposals all they want, but it won’t help if they elect school board members who work hand-in-hand with the local teachers union during contract negotiations.
The teachers will get the contract they want, and school expenses will go through the roof.
Most voters pay little attention to who’s running for their local school board. That’s why fiscally conservative voters still end up with bloated school budgets and growing labor costs that choke out student programs and services.
The teacher unions understand the importance of those overlooked school board elections, which is why they work overtime to help elect the “right” people who approve of their agenda.
But sometimes union members get too zealous and run afoul of state election laws.
In Utah’s Davis School District, a teacher apparently violated election laws by bringing a stack of yard signs for three “union-recommended” school board candidates to the faculty lounge of Adelaide Elementary School. The unidentified teacher included a note “requesting staff and teachers to take the campaign signs and post them in their yards,” reports the Standard-Examiner.
The three board candidates, the school principal and state and local teacher union leaders all say the zealous educator acted alone, without their knowledge or approval. (The signs have since been removed.)
Over in the Hawkeye State, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board met yesterday to discuss possible illegal electioneering done with Johnston Community School resources and equipment.
The Des Moines Register reports that school board member John Dutcher is accusing “district employees of improperly using public resources to advocate for the election of four school board candidates last year.” (All four just happened to win their contests.)
A subsequent search of the district’s email archives yielded several hundred messages that allegedly support Dutcher’s claims.
It will be up to state officials to determine if any wrongdoing occurred, and if so, what the penalties should be.
These two incidents hold an important lesson for taxpayers: It’s time to start paying attention to your local school board races. These seemingly minor contests can have a major impact in how the local school district spends money and operates on a day-to-day basis.
Your local teachers union understands this; it’s high time you did, too.
Unions run afoul of law in Iowa, Utah school board races
By Ben Velderman