Tuesday primary to narrow Nebraska Board of Education candidates in District 4. 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 4 candidates (for District 2, see here): 

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 4, which represents the eastern Omaha metro area inside Douglas County.   

Although Board of Education elections in the state are run as non-partisan, candidates in District 4 feature two people who identify with major political parties, and one who claims to be non-affiliated, according to a voter guide at NebraskaVoterGuide.com and the Omaha World-Herald.   

The District 4 race features LeDonna White Griffin, an unaffiliated candidate, facing Stacy Matula, listed as a Republican and, Liz Renner, who is listed as a Democrat by the voter guide.  

Matula, who has a background in aerospace accounting, told the World-Herald that Nebraska needs to get back to the basics of improving academic outcomes, especially in literacy.   

She told the voter guide that schools should avoid controversial subjects such as CRT and transgender participation in sports. 

“What is more a priority with my constituents is financial transparency and the core values of education — getting more students who graduate to read above a 2nd grade level,” Matula told the World-Herald. 

In the voter guide, she called parents the “primary educators of their children, and their input on what is taught in classrooms is invaluable.”  

“It’s essential to uphold parental rights and ensure they have a significant say in their children’s education, fostering a collaborative partnership between schools and families,” she noted.  

That may be one reason why Matula thinks parents need “the freedom to choose the school that best meets their child’s needs, whether it’s public, private or homeschooling.”  

She said that school choice “promotes competition, innovation, and accountability in education” that achieves better outcomes for students. 

“Students should be taught, at age-appropriate levels, about the value and dignity of every human life, including pre-born babies. It’s essential to instill respect for life from an early age, nurturing a culture of compassion, empathy, and protection for the most vulnerable members of society,” Matula concluded.  

Renner is a writer and filmmaker who produced videos for the “Nebraska Loves Public Schools” political campaign, according to the World-Herald. 

While she does not address specifically how she feels about parental choice in schools, Renner said on her website that her “personal experience with private schools and homeschooling, compels me to be a strong advocate” for public schools. 

She did not, however, cite specific examples of troubles she saw with private schools and homeschooling. 

“I think [Nebraska schools are] at a crisis point. And it’s going to take a long time to really correct that. There are lots of things impacting that issue. But it’s really high on my list that we get sustainable solutions in place that not only retain but recruit qualified educators into our schools,” she told the World-Herald.  

Renner didn’t fill out the voter’s guide survey. 

The very first priorities listed on her website are:  

  • Greater behavioral and mental health support in our schools; 
  • Promote effective counselor-to-student ratios in our schools; 
  • Support anti-bullying initiatives. 

Renner said she’s been endorsed by the groups Women Who Run Nebraska, Nebraska Democratic Women’s Caucus and Nebraskans for Educational Excellence, a group created to support public education as the only option for parents. 

Griffin, the founder of Leaders to Legends Academy, a group that supports homeschooled and private school students, is an advocate for literacy and for parental choice, she told the World-Herald.  

“When something is not working for the child, parents are the ones making the choice that’s best for their child,” Griffin said. 

She called parents the students’ “first teachers,” according to her submission at NebraskaVoterGuide.com.   

She thinks males should not be allowed to compete against girls in sports and that CRT should not be taught in schools.  

Griffin wants parents to be able to opt-out their kids from comprehensive sex ed, and she favors academic transparency that gives parents easy access to all materials taught to students.  

She noted on Facebook that just “14% of Nebraska 4th graders [are] on grade level for reading. Not ok!”  

“When a child is taught to read, they can begin to think in a whole new level that will change and save other lives too!” Griffin added.  

Prior to opening Leaders to Legends, Griffin worked in Omaha Public Schools for 26 years in roles such as principal and assistant principal, she told the World-Herald.  

Her LinkedIn profile said she earned an EdD from the University of Nebraska, Omaha.