Brent Strate, seeking 2024 Utah school board primary election win, shares top challenges in education

Incumbent USBE member Strate is being challenged by Republican Rod Hall, who did not respond to The Tribune’s request to answer questions about school board issues in the 2024 primary.

Incumbent Utah State Board of Education member Brent Strate is being challenged in his District 3 reelection bid by Rod Hall. The winner of the Republican primary election will face Utah Forward candidate Laura Johnson this fall for the chance to represent the district encompassing East Layton, Clearfield and nearby cities.

Strate initially ran for office in 2020, representing what was then called District 4. The area was changed to District 3 after a statewide redistricting initiative in 2021.

Also that year marked the state’s first-ever partisan elections for the State Board of Education and Strate won his seat by defeating primary opponent K’Leena Furniss, as there was no Democratic candidate in the race.

Strate taught at South Ogden Jr. High for 10 years and at Bonneville High for 20 years and previously served as a council member for South Ogden City.

Hall secured the Utah Republican Party’s nomination for the District 3 school board seat. He currently serves as an assistant pastor at Layton Baptist Church and was a teacher for over 10 years, according to his website.

To better understand the candidates’ positions on issues readers told The Salt Lake Tribune were important in this primary, a reporter reached out to Strate and Hall with questions on topics from Natalie Cline’s censure to book bans. Strate answered half of the questions, while Hall did not respond to The Tribune.

1. According to Utah State Board of Education bylaws, board members must act “in the best interest of the school children of the state, using powers or resources of public office to promote the public interest rather than for personal gain or to pursue private interests.”

If elected, how will you act in the best interest of Utah’s school children? (100 word max)

Brent Strate: Research shows that the number one factor of student academic success is the classroom teacher. This success is amplified by parent engagement. The Utah State Board of Education does not directly fund classrooms, but we do impact teachers by developing quality standards, through teacher licensure and training and good policy.

Rod Hall: No response.

2. State school board leaders this year voted to censure board member Natalie Cline after determining that a social media post she made resulted in the “cyberbullying” and “harassment” of a student. Do you agree or disagree with the board’s decision? Why or why not? (100 words max)

Brent Strate: I would make the same decision today as I did then. As a member of the Utah State Board of Education I fully support the decision of the board. Within the options based on the bylaws the maximum penalty was applied. An educator taking the same action could have resulted in losing their job.

Rod Hall: No response.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah State Board of Education member Brent J. Strate, Thursday, August 3, 2023.

3. List what you believe are the top five challenges facing public education in Utah, ranking them with No. 1 as the most critical. (100 words max)

Brent Strate:

  1. Connect, engage, and build trust with parents, families, and communities.

  2. Promote and establish conditions for academic excellence.

  3. Respect and advocate for the profession of teaching.

  4. Uphold Transparency and Accountability in education.

  5. Tools and training to address student behavior.

Rod Hall: No Response

Neither candidate responded to the following questions

For or against: Are you voting for or against the constitutional amendment that removes the requirement that income taxes be used for education and social services?

For or against: Did you support or oppose HB29, which created a process for banning books from Utah schools statewide if at least three school districts or at least two school districts and five charter schools determine it amounts to “objective sensitive material?”

Yes or no: Do you support policies/laws that seek to eliminate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in Utah’s K-12 public schools?

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