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Idaho critics rip ‘disaster’ bill requiring school board candidates to declare political party affiliation

The editorial board of The Idaho Statesman is ripping a new bill introduced in the state legislature that would require school board candidates to declare a party affiliation.

Critics at one Idaho news outlet are ripping a bill proposed by a Republican state representative that they say would be a “disaster” for school boards in the state by filling them with partisan hacks.

State Rep. Joe Alfieri introduced House Bill 171 earlier this month, which would reduce terms of school board members from four years to two years, and would require all candidates running for any school board in Idaho to either declare a party affiliation or an unaffiliated status.

According to the Editorial Board of The Idaho Statesman, Alfieri’s bill would amount to “an attack” on school boards, which it described as “one of the only parts of Idaho government that functions well.”


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“The bill would turn school board races from nonpartisan contests, where voters have to focus on things like qualifications, policy positions and experience, into partisan races — where all that seems to matter is the R or D behind a person’s name,” the board wrote.

It’s a tremendous benefit that Idaho’s school districts are mostly led by people who are focused on the technical aspects of making schools better, not scoring points with their state party bosses,” it added.

The board went on to describe Idaho’s partisan institution’s as “almost universally in disrepair,” and cited polling it said showed Idahoans had quickly lost confidence in them in a matter of just a few years.

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It said that the state legislature had become “so ideological” that it could barely function, and that its focus had turned from serious problems to “things like pushing transgender kids around and censoring libraries.”

“It would be terrible for a similar fate to befall the governance of our school system. And if anything, partisan school boards may wind up being less competent than the Legislature (if such a thing is imaginable),” the board wrote, adding that because school boards were nonpartisan, candidates had to be elected on competence to do the job.

“Make the school board partisan, and instead, the top concern of any school board member will be making headlines. It will be nothing but a springboard for would-be lawmakers,” it said.

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The board cited one school system in Idaho that it said had already experienced a “major partisan takeover,” North Idaho College, claiming the election was “sufficiently infused with partisanship,” and that it ran the institution “into the ground.”

“Lawmakers shouldn’t do that to Idaho’s public school system,” it wrote.

Fox News Digital reached out to Alfieri’s office for comment but didn’t immediately receive a response.

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