Nebraska Considers Ditching No Child Left Behind

The Nebraska State Board of Education (NSBE) is considering applying for a waiver to stop using the No Child Left Behind model, according to KNOP-TV.

"Congress is not ready to reauthorize the Elementary Secondary Education Act," explains District 7 Representative, Molly O'Holleran, with the NSBE. "That means 249 school districts in Nebraska will be required to be at 100% proficiency of NeSA by the end of this month. This is untenable for school districts and the State Board of Education does not want to leave our school districts in a lurch."

O'Holleran says this is the only choice they have — that is, to do what 40 other states, plus the District of Columbia, have had to do. O'Holleran said this choice was actually good for the state because it would give educators time to take stock, decide what has worked and what has not, and what is best for Nebraska's students.

Four guidelines will be presented to the National Association of State Boards of Education. They are:

  • Establishing and meeting college and career standards (accomplished through a focus on reading, language arts, math, and science, along with the proper prioritization of subjects like history and the arts)
  • A sound accountability system
  • Teacher and principal evaluation model
  • Safe, Successful, Healthy Schools with programs like suicide prevention, bullying protection, healthy lifestyles

"By asking for a waiver and applying, we actually will be getting into inter–readiness for what will be coming down the pipeline," O'Holleran said.

The application for the waiver may take place in June along with a vote on how to move forward from here.

The York News and Times reports that "The State of Education in Nebraska: One Child at a Time" will air on June 19 and June 22 on NET Television and will present the benefits of individualized teaching practices. The documentary will explore why individualized teaching practices are going to be more successful for every child, no matter where they fall on the ability spectrum.

"It's no longer just your reading, writing and arithmetic," says Nick Dressel, principal of Chadron Middle School. "There's this whole social piece. How do you get involved with students in their lives to make sure they have the kind of supports they need to be successful young people? I don't know if the larger public really understands how big a job education really is, because it's more than just academics. "

State school aid is what is usually being passionately discussed by Nebraska's lawmakers in the summer between sessions. This year, the topic is the statewide "vision" for education. Martha Stoddard, writer for the World-Herald Bureau, reports that State Sen. Kate Sullivan is the committee chairwoman. Fellow legislators say they are glad to be informed so that they can make better funding decisions in the future. They are also happy not to be talking about money at this stage, but are trying to see the "big picture".

Instead of looking at issues within the broad general issue, Sullivan requested that the legislature keep its thinking broad. Now they are concentrating on aspirational [sic] goals, visionary objectives, meaningful priorities, and practical strategies. They have sent out online surveys to the citizens of Nebraska asking for their points of views on educational issues. This will be followed by public hearings.

The lawmakers know that the real work comes in taking the information they receive and working on "more specific goals, objectives, priorities and strategies". And, of course, will come the undeniable need for money to support the "vision".

The bill that passed this year to support this process is LB 1103. The survey deadline is June 30, and the report must be submitted by December 31.

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