School board races in Election Day spotlight 

School board races in Election Day spotlight

School board races in Election Day spotlight

You’ve likely heard stories around Minnesota and the nation about progressive education groups upset about proposals to ban certain books. Or about conservative education groups upset about gender or sex education issues they say confuse kids.

All those issues and others are cropping up in many school board races around Minnesota thanks to the involvement of outside groups.

“People are asking who wants to ban books because I don’t want to vote for them,” says Denise Specht of the state teacher’s union Education Minnesota.

The union generally endorses Democrats for political offices but is now getting more involved in nonpartisan school board races than ever before.

“For the first time ever, we have invested in digital ads,” Specht said. “We’re seeing how many groups here in Minnesota, but also as you said outside of Minnesota, investing in our school board races. We just had to do something.”

One of the groups is the Minnesota Parents Alliance, a Minnesota-based group concerned about the lack of focus on academic basics and too much focus on cultural and political issues.

“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the business community that now the students that are graduating from our K-12 system don’t have the basic skills they need to be successful,” says Cristine Trooien, founder and executive director of the Minnesota Parents Alliance. 

While her organization leans to the right on education issues, Trooien says their focus is on getting back to the basics.  

“I think we’re in a sort of bizarre landscape right now where anything that is even remotely right of far left has become extreme conservative, and I just don’t think that’s accurate,” Trooien says.

One thing both these groups agree on is that voters need to do their research.

“They really do need to do their homework,” Specht says. “They should check out the candidates’s website for sure.”

Trooien agrees voters need to do their research. “So, if you have about 10 to 12 people running for three or four seats on your local school board the average voter hasn’t really taken the time to investigate the nuances of all those different individuals.”

Visit the Minnesota Secretary of State website to see which candidates are on your ballot.