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Over the past couple of months, many constituents have reached out to my office to express their dissatisfaction with the originally proposed Health Education Standards that were proposed by the Nebraska Department of Education earlier this year. There are numerous items within the originally proposed health standards that I agreed with, and there were numerous items that I am adamantly opposed to.
I have discussed my personal objections and the objections of my constituents with multiple members of the Nebraska State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education Matthew Blomstedt. It is my understanding that the Department of Education, after hearing from many individuals concerned with these standards, have decided to redraft the standards.
Recently, many of my colleagues have signed onto a letter that is being sent to school boards around the state encouraging local school boards to formally adopt the resolution rejecting the proposed Health Standards and reaffirming the rights of parents. I did not sign onto this letter for multiple reasons.
One, I rarely sign onto letters drafted by other senators as I do not have control over the wording of the letter. In this case, I did not sign onto this letter as it calls on each school board to adopt a resolution opposing the adoption of the “proposed” Health Education Standards. However, there is not a current “proposal” that is being considered.
In March, draft standards were released for public comment. After hearing from Nebraskans, the original draft standards were scrapped and are in the process of being redrafted. The Nebraska Board of Education heard your voices and are incorporating the feedback they received. I believe it is irresponsible to comment on any new proposed draft since it has not been completed and released for public comment.
Second, the State Board of Education and our local school boards are elected officials, just like me, and serve on the behalf of those who elected them. While I expressed my personal dissatisfaction with the originally proposed standards, I do not want to use the weight of my office to influence other duly elected individuals.
Lastly, there is not a legal requirement that any school district adopt the originally proposed health standards. According to Nebraska Revised Statute 79-7601.01, school districts are required to adopt state-approved content standards or adopt content area standards deemed as equal to or more rigorous than state-approved content area standards for reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. While schools are encouraged to adopt state-approved standards in other content areas such as fine arts, physical education, health education, and world languages, the adoption of these standards are not mandatory.
You may continue to submit feedback on Draft #1 of the Health Education Standards by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, but Draft #2 of the Health Education Standards will be released later this summer and I encourage you to read that draft and submit your comments to the Nebraska Department of Education for their consideration once this new draft is released.
As always, if we can be of assistance to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact my office. My door is open and I have made it a goal to be accessible to the constituents of our district. Please stop by any time. My e-mail address is email@example.com, and the office phone number is 402-471-2756. Tyler and Katie are always available to assist you with your needs. If I am not immediately available, please do not hesitate to work with them to address any issues that you may need assistance with. Please continue to follow me on Facebook at Kolterman for Legislature and on Twitter at @KoltermanforLegislature.