Helen Raikes for State Board of Education – Official Site

Helen Raikes for State Board of Education

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Supporters letter from Helen →

I am Helen Raikes, Candidate for District 5, Nebraska State Board of Education. I am a parent, grandparent, retired professor of education, Nebraska leader in creating opportunities in early childhood and other areas of education. I have been a lifelong advocate for children, parents, schools, local control of schools, teacher recruitment, building thriving communities, and maintaining processes in a Democracy. For these reasons I am running. 

Watch our campaign video here: 

News & Letters to the Editor

If elected to this office, I will work continuously to carry out the mission of the State Board—to lead and support the preparation of all Nebraskans for learning earning and living. This is an inspiring charge. To carry out this mission, the State Board of Education needs calm, competent leadership now more than ever Nebraska is rated in the top 10 of states for education, by US News, so we are doing good things. Maintaining and building requires constant focus and updating. My background has prepared me to serve. 

This election is an important one— potentially setting a path for the future of Nebraska children and schools. I hope you recognize the importance of maintaining strong policies and procedures in our small, 8-person State Board of Education. I hope you will become engaged, and active. Conduct your own research, vote, and talk to your friends about the importance, some would say, urgency, of this election.

About District 5 and Helen Raikes

District 5 includes Saunders, Butler, Polk, Seward, York, Hamilton, Clay, Fillmore, Saline, Franklin, Webster, Nuckolls, Thayer, Jefferson, Gage, Pawnee, Richardson and Rural Lancaster Counties. Raikes, who lives near Ashland, is a registered Independent in the nonpartisan race.

Helen retired from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as an early childhood education professor in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies in 2020. The Raikes family has been farming in Saunders County for more than 100 years and operates Raikes Beef in Ashland and she and her husband, the late Sen. Ron Raikes, set into motion several of Nebraska’s early childhood programs. The Raikes are parents of three children and have six grandchildren.

On the Issues

Helen Raikes is the best person to vote for State Board of Education, District 5.

Best qualified.   She has been in education for her entire career.  She was a Willa Cather Professor of Education at the University of Nebraska.  She and her late husband, Senator Ron Raikes, initiated Nebraska early childhood education programs and the Sixpence Program when he was chair of the Nebraska Unicameral Education Committee.  

Best for strong Nebraska schools.  She supports Nebraska public and parochial schools and will work to maintain Nebraska’s rank as #9 state for education (US News).  Sixty three percent of voters think THEIR school deserves an A or B grade (Gallup).  Nebraskans take pride in their local schools.  

Best for local control.  Nebraska schools are strong because of local control.  The most important school decisions (e.g., curriculum) are made at the local level.  She will support local boards and limit unnecessary requirements by the State Board.   Nebraskans want to keep control of schools at the local level.  Nebraskans have not lost confidence in their local schools.

Best for teachers.   She is the candidate who believes in our dedicated Nebraska teachers.  She will work to support our current teachers and will focus on creative ways to build the teacher and staff pool while maintaining high standards.   Eighty-eight percent of parents think the teachers in THEIR school are doing their best (NPR).  She agrees.   Nebraskans support their teachers.   Nebraska teachers are not pedophiles or groomers, as the film the opponent shows suggests.   

Best for parents.   She has long worked for parent involvement.  All parent voices are important at the education table.  Parents are the first and most fundamental persons in their children’s lives.  She will support all parents, not just the angry ones.   Nebraska parents overwhelmingly support THEIR schools.  

Best for children.   Her focus will be on basic child learning, e.g., reading, writing, science, social studies, for every child at every level. Most Nebraskans agree that children learn best when they feel a sense of belonging in their schools.  She will address current behavioral and mental health issues in schools.   She will emphasize moving Nebraska from #32 in pre-k access and school readiness (US News) and up from #23 in readiness for career and college (US News), e.g., supporting more career and technical preparation.  Most parents want schools to focus on broad, basic learning, not on narrow topics like race or sex education (NPR).  

Best for communities. Schools are key to thriving rural communities.  She was the keynote speaker at Nebraska’s Thriving Communities conference in 2019 and understands keeping momentum among thriving children, schools, families and communities.  Pre-k/childcare and career/technical preparation help our District 5 communities thrive.   Nebraska rural communities want to keep their local schools strong and many are embracing pre-k/childcare and career/technical preparation in cooperation with schools.  Nebraskans community leaders do not find threatening, negative language about schools helpful to aspirations for community development and growth.


If you have further questions, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected].  I try to answer every question I receive.  Honest and civil discourse is at the heart of our democracy.  

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