Tuesday primary to narrow Nebraska Board of Education candidates in District 2. Who are they?

In two of the four Nebraska Board of Education primaries May 14, three candidates are vying for the top-two spots in Districts 2 and 4 for the ballot in November’s general election.

The other…

In two of the four Nebraska Board of Education primaries May 14, three candidates are vying for the top-two spots in Districts 2 and 4 for the ballot in November’s general election.

The other districts’ primaries (Districts 1 and 3) feature only two candidates in each contest, both of whom will automatically be advanced to the general election as the top two vote-getters.

Here’s what voters should know about the District 2 candidates:

Parental rights, school choice, and an emphasis on academic results, especially in literacy, are expected to be key issues in both the primary and, ultimately, the general election for District 2, which partially represents the southern Omaha metro area.

Although Board of Education elections in the state are run as non-partisan, candidates in District 2 feature three people who identify with major political parties, according to NebraskaVoterGuide.com and the Omaha World Herald. 

The District 2 race has Karen Morgan, a Democrat, facing Linda Vermooten, listed as a Republican, and Maggie Douglas, who is listed as a Democrat by the Omaha World Herald and as a Republican by the voter guide. 

When asked if parents should have the most say over what their kids are taught in school, Morgan, the Democrat, was an adamant “no.” 

“Parents are not teachers unless they are trained as teachers! If they are teachers they would NOT have their kids in their classroom!” Morgan told the voter guide. 

She believes choice in schools should be limited to giving parents the right to take their kids out of the public schools and transfer them to private schools. 

“If parents want private schools they should have the right to transfer their kids to private schools,” she said. 

Morgan also didn’t shy away from advocating the teaching of controversial topics such as Critical Race Theory (CRT). 

“Teach the true history even when it reflects poorly on our ancestors,” said Morgan about including CRT in the Nebraska curriculum. 

She also said she’s in favor of transgender participation in girls’ sports, regardless of biological sex at birth, and in favor of girls sharing bathrooms with biological males who identify as girls. 

“A women’s restroom has cubicles — you can close the door and there is no violation. If a male had gone in there and not gone through a transition completely and they feel like a woman, why prevent them feeling the way they are? Segregating people of color, religion, LGBTQ — that’s not fair and that’s not American,” Morgan said, according to the World Herald.  

Maggie Douglas didn’t return the request for the voter guide for answers on major issues, but told the World Herald that decisions about library books should be left to librarians. 

“We all have our views and our backgrounds and our belief systems,” Douglas said. “Just recognizing we all come from different situations but our main focus is supporting all of our children — the conversations of our differences need to be steered to helping all of our students,” Douglas told the paper. 

Republican Linda Vermooten, in contrast, said that parents should have a significant say in what is taught in the classroom. Parental involvement ensures that education aligns with family values and beliefs, and creates a supportive learning environment, she noted, according to the answers given on the voter guide.  

That may be one reason she’s such a strong “yes” on school choice.  

“School choice empowers parents to select the educational environment that best meets their child’s needs and preferences. It promotes diversity in education and encourages innovation and excellence among schools,” she said.  

She also said that while she supports some sex ed in schools, teaching “transgender ideology and preferred pronouns may conflict with some families’ values and should be approached with sensitivity.” 

Similarly, Vermooten said that participation in sports should be limited to biological sex at birth.  

“Upholding fairness and equality in sports requires basing participation on biological sex. Protecting girls’ sports ensures that female athletes have equal opportunities to compete and excel without facing unfair competition,” she told the voter guide.  

Additionally, Vermooten said that CRT taught in schools promotes division and oversimplification of complex issues.  

“It should not be taught in schools as it undermines the principles of equality and unity, fostering resentment and distrust among students,” she noted. 

Vermooten also told the World Herald that she was worried about the low test scores among students and the deteriorating finances of Nebraska schools.  

“Fiscal responsibility is one of the (reasons) that I’m running – making sure we’re using money that’s actually going to help the individual student with learning versus just going into a program,” she said.