District 42, state school board candidates talk CRT, state health standards at Lincoln County Cattlemen debate – North Platte Telegraph


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District 42, state school board candidates talk CRT, state health standards at Lincoln County Cattlemen debate

State Legislature District 42 candidates Mel McNea, left, Chris Bruns and Brenda Fourtner answer questions on Thursday at a forum hosted by the Lincoln County Cattlemen at the Fairgrounds Ag building in North Platte.

Job Vigil / The North Platte Telegraph

Critical race theory and comprehensive health standards topped the list of hot button topics at the candidate forum hosted by the Lincoln County Cattlemen.Three candidates — Mel McNea, Chris Bruns and Brenda Fourtner — vying for the District 42 State Legislature seat and two candidates — incumbent Robin Stevens and challenger Elizabeth Tegtmeier — for District 7 State School board shared their thoughts on questions posed by the moderators.McNea, Bruns and Fourtner are running for the seat currently held by Mike Groene and all three agreed on opposing CRT being taught in the state.“Emphatically I’m against CRT and comprehensive health standards that our state board of education tried sneaking through this past year,” Bruns said.Educators and administrators across the district Bruns said have told him they want to focus on teaching the basics. They want to focus on making sure students are ready for “the real world.”“They want to focus on reading and writing and math and science,” Bruns said, “not the social engineering, radical policies that are being pushed down by special interest groups.”Fourtner said she had been to state school board meetings and pointed her finger at board members concerning CRT and the comprehensive health standards.“Shame on them, all of them,” Fourtner said. “With the Critical Race Theory, in Nebraska we don’t teach our children to hate each other because of the color of their skin or their religion or anything else. Our kids love each other because they’re friends.”McNea said one of the good things that came out of the pandemic is that parents started waking up and realized what was being taught to their children.“The reality is that a parent should be teaching health standards that have been written by our state board,” McNea said. “When I first read those, and I have a six-year-old grandson, I was mortified. He wouldn’t have even understood any of the terminology.”The candidates were also asked their thoughts on the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement project, specifically about the use of the land.

McNea said the project meets some legal requirements of the state of Nebraska as far as water rights with Kansas.“I think what we failed to do is to look at that land and property and find ways to use that property,” McNea said, “because the school district down there does not reap anything for their school system from (property) taxes.”He said the project needs to be held accountable and make sure they are looking at possible uses for that property that would bring in tax support for the school district.Bruns said we have a responsibility to protect our natural resources.“Water is a huge, huge, important natural resource that we have in this state,” Bruns said. “But to take nearly 20,000 acres of really good ground in Lincoln County off the tax rolls has negatively impacted local government.”Fourtner said she doesn’t know a lot about the project, but said farmers and ranchers are the best people to turn to in Nebraska when it comes to taking care of Nebraska land and water.The candidates covered a number of other subjects including their stances on abortion, vaccine mandates, voting rights and the use of Federal COVID-19 relief funds.Stevens and Tegtmeier also spoke to the issues of comprehensive health standards and CRT.“One thing I have heard as I’ve traveled around our district campaigning is parents are very upset,” Tegtmeier said, “at attempts to indoctrinate their children with the sex ed standards that were proposed.”Tegtmeier said she is grateful they are tabled for now.“However, we do need some strong voices to say we are going to permanently scrap this and truly leave these standards at the local level.”Stevens said as the incumbent he was there and knew what was done.“This is a great opportunity for me to share that with you,” Stevens said. “In March 2020, we all know the health standards became public. In April of 2020, I led the state board in referring those back to the writers.”He said the writers came back with another set and the board did not accept those and Stevens said he led that discussion as well.“What has happened since then is the state board has passed a statute that says the state health standards have been indefinitely postponed,” Stevens said. “I get a feeling that either people are not understanding that or those who do understand it continue to use it for political gain.”The two candidates also discussed the role of the state board, use of Federal COVID-19 relief funds, the idea of reducing the role of the state board and/or reducing the size of the Department of Education.Both agreed eliminating the department was not a good idea.“The board has been in existence since 1955,” Stevens said. “Because of this (health standards) issue there’s talk of getting rid of it.”Stevens said the board has done a lot of good over those years.“If we eliminate the Department of Education and consolidate all the power,” Tegtmeier said, “we give all the power to the governor.”She said that with the board in place, that gives the power to the voter.In closing statements, both candidates appreciated the opportunity given them at the forum.“One thing I will do is to continue to listen to you,” Tegtmeier said. “This is a representative position and western Nebraskans deserve a strong voice and I promise to be that voice for you.”Stevens said there is no greater thing one can do than service to one’s community.“I want to repeat what I said at the beginning because that reflects my life,” Stevens said, “faith first, family next and my work based on serving.”

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State Legislature District 42 candidates Mel McNea, left, Chris Bruns and Brenda Fourtner answer questions on Thursday at a forum hosted by the Lincoln County Cattlemen at the Fairgrounds Ag building in North Platte.

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