Minnesota Parents Alliance is off and running to support parent-centered school board candidates and members.
On December 4, 2021, a group of school board candidates, campaign managers, and parents got together to debrief that year’s election. Instead of mundane introductions followed by an impersonal strategy session, candidates from around the state took two hours explaining the details of their journey — their frustration with the state of public education, the emotional toll of running for public office, and the feeling of being isolated and without the support, resources, and training needed to put together a winning campaign to take back public education from more established (meaning almost always union endorsed) candidates.
Everyone agreed: Minnesota needed a statewide parent organization that could support and train candidates to win in school board races. There are enough groups (American Experiment among them) that advocate for broader education reform such as school choice. The real fight, according to these parents, is at the local level.
Thus was born the Minnesota Parents Alliance (MPA), a new Minnesota education group with the goal of educating and empowering parents to engage in their local school communities as strong advocates for academic achievement, equality, and parental rights. The MPA is helping recruit and train candidates for local school board races across the state, as the battle for the future of education shifts to the local level and more people are disillusioned by the teachers’ union control and influence on education policy.
This follows in the footsteps of a growing nationwide movement of parents who are reclaiming control over their kids’ education from special interest groups. Many feel teachers’ unions and other special interest groups don’t prioritize kids’ education or parents’ concerns.
The 2021 governor’s race in Virginia could foreshadow a wave of discontent with parents after two years of school shutdowns and divisive curriculum. After Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe told voters he didn’t think “parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” parents overwhelmingly flocked to the campaign of Republican Glenn Youngkin and carried him to victory.
Conservative school board candidates in Florida this August also won races running on a platform that highlighted parental rights, school choice, and transparency around what students are learning in school, particularly on the topics of race and gender identity.
Cristine Trooien, one of the participants in that December 2021 meeting, is MPA’s first executive director. Trooien formed a Political Action Committee in 2021 to help candidates in two western Hennepin County school districts run for school board. After coming up short against well-funded, union-backed candidates, she knew more support was needed.
“For too long in Minnesota the voice of parents has been pushed aside by powerful special interest groups like the teachers’ union,” said Trooien. “We are actively organizing and training parents to win seats on local school boards, and 2022 is shaping up to be the year of the parent.”
MPA conducted its first campaign school in May with over 75 candidates in attendance. A second school was held on July 30 focusing on fundraising, message development, and voter contact. A voter guide published by the parent-led organization is now available on their website at www.MinnesotaParents.org to help voters choose candidates committed to academic excellence, equality, and parental rights.
Campaign kick-off rally
MPA kicked off the 2022 campaign year with a rally of over 150 people at the State Capitol on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The event featured candidates excited to tell Minnesota why they are running and how they will support and empower parents. Now, parents across the state are stepping up to run for school board seats in record numbers and have organized strong groups of engaged parents in their school communities.
MPA candidates advance in primaries
Every local school board candidate supported by MPA advanced past the primary and will appear on the general election ballot this November. “We are thrilled the support of parents carried these qualified candidates through to the general election,” said Trooien. “The primary was a nice warm up for our new organization, and we look forward to helping many more candidates stand up for academic achievement and parental rights this November.”
After limited success in 2021, MPA is preparing candidates across the state to win local school board elections and make an immediate difference in the lives of students. It’s past time parents have a seat at the education table.