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I mentioned in another column that I was running for the Chair of the Education Committee. I believe you sent me to Lincoln to address issues; there is no better way to do so than to be chairman of a committee. Below are the reasons I have shared with my colleagues as to why I am running and why they should support me in my endeavor:
With the general election behind us, I have decided to run for the position of Education Committee Chairman. The new makeup of the legislature with seventeen newly elected and thirty two returning officeholders has emboldened me to believe it is time to address pressing issues in public education in an effort to improve student success in our statewide school system. I spent my first two years as a member of the Education Committee and learned from Senator Sullivan as she guided difficult issues through the Committee.
We understand that student success hinges on the environment of the classroom. Teachers need to know they can demand proper nondestructive behavior without fear of reprisals or job loss. As chairman I will work with local school boards, teachers, and the Department of Education to seek improvements to classroom environment.
There is an understanding that parental rights should not be compromised by actions of government in relation to public education. School choice must be protected; parents and students must be able to attend a school that reflects their personal values if they deem that to be of importance.
To maintain strong schools, local control is vital. Decisions involving curriculum, personnel, and fiscal management of the resources allotted are best made locally.
The recent downturn in our state’s economy will have an effect on how we allocate our state’s resources. The new Chairperson of the Education Committee must maintain open communication with fellow senators and maintain good working relationships with the Appropriations and Revenue Committees’ leadership, along with the Governor’s Office, to direct available funding to best achieve classroom results. Alleviating the burden put on property tax payers to fund the majority of public schools financing must also be addressed through restructuring of the State Aid to Education formula (TEEOSA).
Like most Nebraskans, I have not spent my life surrounded by the education establishment. Instead, I have spent my life dealing with the educational outcomes of public schools through my personal family experiences and interacting with public school graduates in the private and public sectors. The opinion I will seek will be that of parents, teachers, and employers of the graduates from our schools. They are the individuals on the front lines of the public education process. Members of the Education Committee must have an open mind to identify what works and what should be expanded on versus what policies have failed and should be eliminated.
Article VII-1 of our State Constitution declares, “The Legislature shall provide for the free instruction in the common schools of this state […]”. Government can only do so much, it is up to the parents, students, and teachers to assure that with that free instruction, an education is achieved. With the belief that all children have one shot at gaining a great education, the Chairman of the Education Committee should come to the position with that and only that perception in mind.
Please do not hesitate to contact my office email@example.com or 402-471-2729 with any comments, questions, or concerns.