Thibodeau: Keep Nebraska Board of Education elected, accountable

By: - March 7, 2022 3:00 am

Former State Sen. Theresa Thibodeau, a Republican from Omaha, is campaigning for governor of Nebraska. (Courtesy of Thibodeau for Governor)

OMAHA — Former State Sen. Theresa Thibodeau of Omaha, a Republican running for governor, said last week that she wants Nebraska to keep its elected state Board of Education.

Thibodeau criticized a proposed state constitutional amendment that would eliminate the state Board of Education and move the state Department of Education under the governor’s control. 

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan of Omaha has said she introduced Legislative Resolution 278CA for conservative parents frustrated by the ed board’s proposed revamp of health education standards.

Thibodeau said Linehan’s proposal would strengthen the educational bureaucracy, making it harder for people to pressure the state for change when they disagree with state choices in education.

Today, she said, Nebraskans can campaign against and vote out ed board members if they don’t like their actions. Under LR 278CA, people would have to pressure governors to change direction.

The proposal would give governors the authority to hire and fire the state’s education commissioner, instead of the eight-member Board of Education that signs off on the department’s hires now. 

“I’m angry about the heavy-handed way the State Board of Education tried to force inappropriate sex education standards on our children,” Thibodeau said in a press release. “The solution, however, is at the ballot box.”

Public backlash to the board’s proposed standards also spawned a separate proposal by voter initiative to eliminate the state Department of Education and education commissioner’s post. It would create a new Office of Education under the governor.

Thibodeau does not support that proposal, either. She wants an elected board, accountable to the people, said Tyler Henningsen, a campaign spokesman.

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Aaron Sanderford
Aaron Sanderford

Political reporter Aaron Sanderford has tackled various news roles in his 20-plus year career. He has reported on politics, crime, courts, government and business for the Omaha World-Herald and Lincoln Journal-Star. He also worked as an assignment editor and editorial writer. He was an investigative reporter at KMTV.