Coming to a Public School Near You!

Coming to a Public School Near You!

The Great Falls Public Schools (GFPS) are holding a school trustee election on May 3rd and it is shaping up to be a bigoted, partisan mess.

Historically, the Great Falls Public School Board elections have had non-partisan candidates with a strong public education background. That’s not the case this year. It seems the last few years of polarizing politics have infected the Great Falls’ school board race. We now have a slate of far-right, partisan candidates who have stepped forward to run. And they are campaigning hard.

What the Funk is Happening With the School Board Election?

The local right-wing attacks on school boards are part of a nationwide, conservative movement to take over local government. Historically, political parties have made an effort to limit endorsements in non-partisan races like school boards, judicial systems, and city government. Ignoring this precedent, Cascade County GOP is pushing heavily for their preferred candidates in all of these areas. In the Great Falls School Board election, a crop of far-right school board candidates have been endorsed by the Cascade County Republicans PAC. The PAC is an ultra-conservative break-off group of Republicans so extreme that moderate Cascade County Republicans have distanced themselves from the group [The PAC also likes to do campaign finance violations from time to time…]

WTF 406 did a little research into the positions of the GOP-endorsed candidates:

The right-wing candidates are led by out-spoken homophobe, Brian Cayko. Brian wants people to pronounce his name correctly so badly that he boosted Facebook ads, stressing that his name is pronounced “psycho.” Yes, he really did. Aside from his questionable priorities regarding campaign messaging,  Brian has been openly vocal about his anti-LGBTQ sentiments. He has commented online that LGBTQ-friendly schools promote “destructive physical and mental health. Most importantly that is immoral in the eyes of God.” Brian submitted a lengthy, bigoted rant against LGBTQ+ community members as he urged our city commission to vote against a proposed non-discrimination ordinance. With that hate-filled perspective, how is Brian going to support our LGBTQ+ students and staff?

Paige Turoski previously ran for the Great Falls City Commission and she thinks taxation is theft. It’ll be interesting to see how Paige thinks our schools are funded. 

Scott Jablonski thinks masks are unconstitutional. Rodney Meyers wants to insert partisan politics so badly into a non-partisan race, that he sought the endorsement of Republican Lieutenant Governor Juras. 

These ultra-conservative candidates would jeopardize the ability of the school board to function and serve our children well. It’s not surprising that the Great Falls Education Association (GFEA) didn’t endorse any of the candidates on the GOP slate. Our teachers’ union knows what works best to support our students as we strive to recover from the impacts of the pandemic. The GFEA endorsed the three incumbent candidates (Mark Finnicum, Gordon Johnson, and Nathan Reiff), along with Russell Herring for the additional one-year term. Let’s keep partisan politics away from our kids and out of our schools.