This post features audio from the May 9, 2018, local and state school board debate at American Fork Junior High..
We start with two apologies. First, it has taken me six weeks to post this audio, and now we’re within a week of the election. Election Day is Tuesday, June 26, and those mail-in ballots have to be postmarked no later than Monday, June 25. On the other hand, it could have been worse; another week later, and it would be after Election Day. Second, my recorder ran out of memory space, due to an oversight on my part, so I lost a few seconds of one candidate’s answer to the penultimate question, and all of the responses to the final question (essentially, how are you different, and why should we vote for you?). If someone else has audio and wants to offer it, I’ll happily correct the omission.
Come to think of it, a third apology: I was too busy moderating to take photos for this post. Alas. Again, if someone has some good ones to share, let me know.
Details and Housekeeping
The American Fork Council PTA sponsored the debate. Yours truly, David Rodeback, was the moderator. Questions were submitted before and during the debate, and I added a few of my own. Attendance was about 50.
The audio is not of professional quality, but it is usable. I’ve done some noise suppression, adjusted volume levels, and deleted segments of dead air, plus some bits of chatter from, ahem, the moderator. Substantively, the candidates’ answers are unedited.
In the first audio segment — the least important — I explain the format and do some housekeeping.
Alpine School Board Debate
The primary ballot has three candidates for Alpine School Board, District 3; two will advance to the general election. Each voter gets one vote on the race.
The candidates are Sarah Beeson, Kara Sherman, and ‘Afa K. Palu — with names as printed on my ballot, and in the same order.
Please tell us your name and why you’re running for school board. (Beeson – Sherman – Palu)
What experience in your life, professional or otherwise, would you like the voters to consider? (Beeson – Sherman – Palu)
What have you done to prepare specifically for service on the Alpine School Board? (Sherman – Palu – Beeson)
In education, everyone seems to want something, and certainly there are many needs. How will you balance the needs and wants of parents, students, teachers, administrators, and others? (Palu – Beeson – Sherman)
The district has a clear vision for learning. Are you familiar with it, and are you hoping to support it or to change the vision, or somewhere between the two? (Beeson – Sherman – Palu)
Is there too much, too little, or about the right amount of federal control of our public schools? (Palu – Sherman – Beeson)
Is there too much, too little, or about the right amount of state control of our public schools? (Palu – Sherman – Beeson)
What do you want to accomplish as a member of the school board? List your top two, three, or four priorities. (Beeson – Palu – Sherman)
What should we do better to address the ongoing demographic challenges posed by a steadily growing population over the next ten, twenty, or thirty years? (Sherman – Beeson – Palu)
Pick one of these topics and give us your best thoughts: (Palu – Sherman – Beeson)
- promoting school safety
- teacher retention (someone asked specifically about special education teacher retention, if you want to go there)
- the importance of the arts and humanities in public education
What makes you different from your opponents? Why should we vote for you? (Sherman – Beeson – Palu)
Utah State School Board Debate
The candidates for Utah State School Board, District 9, are — again as listed on my ballot — Kami Alvarez, Joylin Lincoln, Avalie Muhlestein, and Cindy Davis.
Please tell us your name and why you’re running for school board. (Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis)
What experience in your life, professional or otherwise, would you like the voters to consider? (Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis)
What have you done to prepare specifically for service on the State School Board? (Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein)
Why do we have a state school board? Is it better to have an elected board instead of an appointed board, or just a state superintendent? (Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein – Alvarez)
Follow-up: Do you support or oppose making the state school board a partisan election? (Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein – Alvarez)
Common Core was adopted almost a decade ago and has been controversial ever since. Some love it, some hate it, and the current board said it would cost too much to fix. Would you vote to change it, and if so, how? (Davis – Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln)
Should a member of the State School Board work to move control away from the state to the local level? If so, how? (Muhlestein – Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis)
What can you do on the state school board to help retain good teachers and to attract good teachers to the state? (Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein)
Some school districts in Utah have dramatically increased teacher pay in order to attract and retain teachers. What if anything should the state do to help poorer districts compete for teachers? (Alvarez – Lincoln – Davis – Muhlestein)
(I’m missing a few seconds at the end of Mrs. Muhlestein’s last response, but I’m including what there is. Closing statements are also missing. Again, my apologies — and if someone has decent audio to offer, I’d be pleased to post it.)
We try here to separate information from commentary, and to label the latter clearly. So I’ll soon post my own thoughts in a separate post, focusing on the races in which I get to vote, but also mentioning other (Republican) primary races affecting American Fork.
I’ll say this for now. I liked all these school board candidates, for reasons I’ll explain soon. And I still haven’t decided who gets my vote in either race. But I’m getting there.
To help your own further research, this earlier post has links to additional information about the candidates.