Challenger receives 62% of vote in primary, will face incumbent in Nebraska State Board of Education election in November

Elizabeth Tegtmeier and incumbent Robin Stevens advanced from the primary for Nebraska State Board of Education District 7 on May 10, 2022. Based on unofficial returns, Tegtmeier received 62.4% of the vote, Stevens received 20.4%, and Pat Moore received 17.2%. District 7 includes 44 counties in western Nebraska.

At the center of this primary was a March 2021 proposal that would have established statewide K-12 health education standards. The proposal included teaching all students about gender identity and stereotypes. High school students would have also learned about homophobia, transphobia, and sexual assault. The Nebraska Department of Education developed the proposal as part of its regular process to update standards in several subject areas as required by state law.

The proposal went through multiple draft iterations. In Sept. 2021, the board voted 5-1 to pause the development of these new standards indefinitely. Stevens voted with the majority.

Stevens told the Lexington Clipper-Herald that the board needed to re-establish public trust. “We didn’t do a good job early on of getting the health standards out to people, it hurt us and it hurt us badly. I understand that,” he said.

At a campaign event, Tegtmeier said she chose to run after hearing a state senator speak about the proposed standards, saying, “I didn’t want to get 10 years down the road and have to tell my kids that I thought about doing something but just didn’t do it.”

Moore told the Omaha World-Herald that the proposed health standards showed the board needed change. Moore said, “Some of the processes that have been in place I believe need challenged and some of the thinking the board members have need challenged.”

The Nebraska State Board of Education is an elected executive agency of the Nebraska state government, responsible for managing the state’s public schools. At the time of the primary election, the board’s mission was “to lead and support the preparation of all Nebraskans for learning, earning, and living.” The board has eight members: four elected during presidential election years and four elected during midterm election years.