“Parental Rights” Movement Falls on its Face

“Parental Rights” Movement Falls on its Face

Since Covid, drama and controversy in our schools have dominated the news. Calling themselves the “parental rights movement”, angry parents have appeared at local school board meetings demanding they have things their way. Rowdy and abusive, these parents have accused school board members and staff of all kinds of (wildly untrue) things. You can watch a sampling of the vitriol our Great Falls School Board experienced during a special meeting in August 2021 here. Pushing conspiracy theories about masks, the books kids are using, and demanding that history classes teach only things they agree with, these parents repeat talking points directly taken from national far-right organizations.   

As school elections approached, they began filing for open seats on school boards across the state. By and large these candidates toned down their far-right rhetoric attempting to present a friendly face to the electorate. So how did they do in the elections? Turns out not very well at all. (A summary of key school elections can be found here: https://montanafreepress.org/2022/05/04/montana-school-election-results/

What the Funk Happened in our School Board Race?

Well, the Great Falls Public School Board Trustees are in! Drum roll please.

Incumbents Gordon Johnson, and Mark Finnicum retained their 3-year seats. Paige Turoski nabbed the last 3-year slot. And Amie Thompson earned the 1-year slot. 

What a rollercoaster ride of an election! Paige Turoski was the only right-wing and GOP-endorsed candidate to win in a race that had 11 candidates vying for four seats. In a climate doused with sheer absurdity, we must celebrate our victories where we can. The elections of Johnson, Finnicum, and Thompson are major wins for our schools, faculty, and kids! 

We have faith our trustees will continue to do right by our students and staff. Hopefully Ms. Turoski will gain more awareness when removed from her right wing echo chamber and instead surrounded by reasonable, logical adults. We’re thrilled to see Great Falls voted for more moderate voices on the board. After all, local elections are nonpartisan for a reason. 

Unofficial results for the races are listed below.

Three-year terms

  • Gordon Johnson – 6,737 votes
  • Mark Finnicum – 6,276 votes
  • Paige Turoski – 5,795 votes
  • Brian Cayko – 5,614 votes
  • Nathan Rieff – 5,057 votes
  • Rodney Meyers – 3,904 votes
  • Michael Nagel – 2,623 votes

One-year term

  • Amie Thompson – 4,035 votes
  • Scott Jablonski – 3,100 votes
  • Russell Herring – 3,089 votes
  • Caitlyn Nash – 1,011 votes
  • Brad Anderson – 956 votes