Dooher, Specht vie for Education Minnesota presidency

Dooher Specht
Tom Dooher, left, and Denise Specht, right, are vying for the presidency of the state's teacher union, Education Minnesota.
Photos courtesy of the candidates

The president of the state's teachers' union, Education Minnesota, faces a challenge as he seeks a third term next week.

Union delegates will select their leadership at a meeting Saturday, April 27. Tom Dooher, president of the union since 2007, faces a challenge from Denise Specht, the union's current secretary-treasurer.

The candidates joined Tom Weber in the studio to make the case for why they should be elected.

Dooher says his record is strong enough to merit re-election. "We need to look at the results and past performance is an indicator of future performance," Dooher said. "My performance as president has record attendance, record lobbying, record members being involved and engaging the community like we never have before."

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

One accomplishment he touted was the defeat of a "right-to-work" constitutional amendment. Although other groups were involved, Dooher takes credit for leading the way. "We are seen as a leader in the labor community and our ideas are sought out by those groups," Dooher said. "The difference between us and some of our other sisters and brothers in labor is we're in every single community. So we can have hometown conversations with legislators in every single community and that's what defeated this."

Specht points to a failed achievement gap bill that Education Minnesota helped draft. She wants the ideas of teachers to be heard, saying, "One of the challenges is connecting what we see in the classroom to those policymakers and I think we could do a better job there."

Education Minnesota also needs to do a better job bringing teacher voices to the table, according to Specht. "They want autonomy, they want respect," Specht said. "Let's elevate our profession, let's elevate them and give them voice so they can bring what's happening to their classrooms to the people who matter."

"There's no reason to change right now because we are doing great things and we're going to continue doing great things," argued Dooher. Specht, on the other hand, thinks the union can go further: "We have yet to realize our power."