by Sam Hieb
A bipartisan bill to make the Guilford County Board of Education nonpartisan was filed Tuesday, with Republican Reps. Jon Hardister and John Faircloth and Democrat Reps. Amos Quick and Ashton Clemmons as the primary sponsors.
The GCS board has been partisan since a bill sponsored by then-Sen. Trudy Wade passed in 2013, with the first partisan race taking place in the 2016 election. Many believe partisan politics has no role in education policy, but JLF vice president for research and director of education studies Terry Stoops said in 2015:
“Well-intentioned folks disagree on the best way to improve the education of public school children,” he wrote. “And, for better or worse, their opinions about education are usually aligned with political parties and other partisan entities.”
But look who’s skeptical of the bill–none other than Deena Hayes-Greene, the board’s resident racial justice warrior:
Hayes-Greene, a Democrat, said it makes sense to her for school boards to be nonpartisan, but she wants to learn more about what motivated lawmakers to bring this new bill forward.
It matters, she said, whether this bipartisan sponsored bill is coming out of a consensus that a nonpartisan board is always a good idea, or whether it’s a calculation to improve chances for certain candidates or candidate groups in the school board races.
“I didn’t want to be a pawn in some political strategy,” she said, explaining why she held off on endorsing the bill.
The way I see it, if you’re on the ballot, then it’s politics. Nonpartisan boards–especially boards of education but including city councils–especially Greensboro–do an effective job of using nonpartisanship to camouflage their politics.