American Experiment update

News in North Dakota

Fargo’s Pledge controversy, staff additions, and events.

American Experiment continues to lead the way in exposing public school malfeasance as the 2022-2023 school year begins. After the Fargo school board voted in April to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting, the board voted 7-2 to reject the recitation on August 9, ruling that it didn’t align with the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion priorities. “The board reciting the Pledge runs counter to our district’s philosophy,” said board vice president Seth Holden, who introduced the motion to rescind recitation and who had taken to kneeling during the Pledge at previous meetings.

American Experiment set up a “Take Action” initiative, creating a landing page on its North Dakota website where Fargo residents could email the school board to voice their concerns. CAE’s director of communications Bill Walsh explained, “It’s important for the school board to hear from parents and the community that they should be prioritizing school excellence and achievement rather than divisive and controversial performances like what Holden is attempting to do.” Over 220 emails were sent to the Fargo school board through the website.

School board president Tracie Newman called for a special meeting on Thursday, August 18 “to discuss the impact our previous decision has had on the District, its operations, and its image, and to offer a motion to reinstate the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of our regular meetings directly following the call to order.” At the meeting, the board reversed its previous decision and voted to reinstate the Pledge.

On September 1, American Experiment North Dakota welcomed Jennifer Benson (Fargo) as its first statewide executive director and the Center’s first official employee in the state. Benson will help oversee and coordinate events, interact with the legislature, and support other activities that help facilitate the organization’s impact across the state. Benson served for eight years on the Fargo school board and has a history of involvement in conservative causes and public policy issues in North Dakota. A Fargo native, Benson graduated from Fargo North High School and earned her bachelor’s degree from MSUM in Moorhead, Minn.

Upcoming events in North Dakota include CAE economist John Phelan and energy expert Isaac Orr presenting their new policy paper, “Energy Leadership: How American Energy Production Can Make the World Safer” in Fargo and Bismarck.

For more information about American Experiment North Dakota, visit the website at

National news

American Experiment’s director of communications Bill Walsh was the first to expose the new agreement between the Minneapolis teachers’ union and Minneapolis Public Schools that would take effect next year. In his post on American Experiment’s website from March 28, Walsh detailed the new agreement, which contains new retention details that garnered national attention.

The contract stipulates that white teach-ers be laid off before teachers of color regardless of seniority. This potential violation of the Civil Rights Act, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, drew media attention from Fox News and the U.K.’s Daily Mail.

Education policy fellow Catrin Wigfall contributed to both news organizations.

“While increasing teachers of color is a worthy goal, the layoff provision in the Minneapolis teachers’ union agreement with the district is a political solution that likely won’t stand up in court and is not good, long-term policy,” she told Fox News Digital on August 16. “In fact, the whole last-in, first-out system should be thrown out, as it does a disservice to all young teachers who are qualified, excel-lent educators. The goal is worthy, but the approach is misplaced.”

In the Daily Mail Wigfall explained that “the district risks finding itself embroiled in lawsuits, which would detract time and resources from improving the district’s abysmal academic performance record.”

Events and appearances


American Experiment continued its annual presence at Farmfest with a booth. Held on August 2-4 in Redwood County, this event afforded the Center an opportunity to connect with rural Minnesota and discuss issues having an impact outside the Twin Cities.

Issues Bootcamp

American Experiment held an issues boot-camp on July 26 at the Vadnais Heights Commons. The one-day nonpartisan course was attended by candidates for the Minnesota legislature. Communications director Bill Walsh gave an overview of how the legislature works and the Center’s policy fellows gave presentations regarding education, the state budget, health care, energy and public safety.

State Fair

American Experiment returned to the Minnesota State Fair with a booth at the KS95 tent outside the Grandstand. On Saturday, August 27, the Center’s policy fellows and staff were present to talk with Minnesotans from across the state about the latest initiatives, research reports, and upcoming events.

In addition to handing out copies of the latest Thinking Minnesota and policy briefs, the steady stream of booth visitors were able to spin a prize wheel for Center merchandise and register for a $250 gas card to highlight American Experiment’s “No Gas Station Inflation” campaign. Center president John Hinderaker, who helped man the booth, was pleased by the high interest. “That we had a long line from 9 a.m. when we opened until we closed at 5 p.m. is a testament to public interest in issues that directly impact everyday Minnesotans.”

Webinars and in-person events

  • Public safety policy fellow David Zimmer was at Brooklyn Center’s Heritage Center on July 28 as part of the “Crime in 2022” series. The panel discussion included Brooklyn Park’s Interim Chief of Police Mark Bruley and Dawanna Witt from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office. The event provided an opportunity to hear from the community’s public safety leaders and hear proven strategies to reduce crime.
  • Zimmer also held a webinar on September 13, “Understanding Minnesota’s Crime Problem.” Zimmer presented the latest statistics and trends regarding crime and the criminal justice system in Minnesota since officially becoming a high crime state.
  • On August 26, Isaac Orr and John Phelan appeared at a press conference in Duluth announcing their new policy report, “Energy Leadership: How Ameri-can Energy Production Can Make the World Safer.” The two were joined by Congressmen Pete Stauber (MN-08) and Tom Tiffany (WI-07), both members of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. The report emphasizes the im-portance of reforming the regulations that are preventing American industry from leading the charge for secure, affordable supplies of energy and making the world a safer place.

Upcoming events and initiatives

  • American Experiment’s Fall Briefing takes place in Waconia on Saturday, October 15. The event at the Winery at Sovereign Estate will feature former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. The former U.S. representative from Hawaii and 2020 presidential candidate will offer her insights into today’s political environment and what is on the political and cultural horizon heading into the mid-term elections in a keynote address. Thinking Minnesota will feature the event and a Q&A with Gabbard in the winter issue. You can find out more information about this event and future events on our website at
  • On September 1, American Experiment launched “Save Our Sherco,” an initiative to save Unit 2 at the Sherburne County Generating Station. The regional grid that includes Minnesota currently has a 1,200-megawatt shortfall — enough to power half the homes in Minnesota — and that problem will only get worse if they shut down any of the units at the Sherco plant. Yard signs are also available to area residents. Information on how to obtain a lawn sign or volunteer with this initiative can be found at the Save Our Sherco website at
  • The Center started a new take-action program in conjunction with policy fellow David Zimmer’s new report, “Minnesota’s Crime Problem” aimed at telling Gov. Walz and elected leaders to address rising crime in the state. “It’s Official: Minnesota is a High Crime State” aims to draw attention to this dangerous situation. People can go to the website to send an email to the governor to express concerns regarding this issue.
  • Adjunct policy fellow Bill Glahn will be holding a webinar explaining the details of the Feeding Our Future school lunch funding scandal, including the breaking news as this issue goes to print that U.S. Attorney for Minn. Andy Luger announced indictments against 48 people, which he called the largest pandemic-related fraud in the U.S. The case was featured in the spring issue of Thinking Minnesota; this issue contains a follow-up. For more information on this event visit our website at You can also sign up for the Center’s newsletter to keep up on the latest news and events as they happen at


  • Senior policy fellow Katherine Kersten’s opinion piece, “At Minnesota State, equity’s in, learning is out” was published in the Star Tribune on August 28. In it, Kersten details the new Equity 2030 toolkit to be implemented throughout the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system. Her piece was an adapted version of the feature in this issue of Thinking Minnesota.
  • On September 12, policy fellow Isaac Orr, policy analyst Mitch Rolling, and economist John Phelan released their report, “The High Cost of 100 Percent Carbon-Free Electricity by 2040.” All American Experiment reports can be downloaded from the Center’s website (