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STEVE ERDMAN: Nebraskans have spoken, it’s time for State Board of Education to listen

STEVE ERDMAN: Nebraskans have spoken, it’s time for State Board of Education to listen

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The popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. This popular definition of insanity describes what it is like to work with the Nebraska Department of Education. No matter how many times the people of Nebraska testify against the newly proposed education standards and demand that the old curriculum be reinstated, the Nebraska Department of Education continues to press forward with its own agenda.

Despite the thousands of emails and letters the Nebraska Department of Education has received in opposition to these newly proposed standards, the Nebraska State Board of Education continues to press forward with its second draft. Despite the fact that 73 people testified in opposition to the new standards compared to the two people who testified in favor of the newly proposed standards at a recent hearing in Kearney, the Nebraska State Board of Education refuses to end their campaign of reforming Nebraska’s educational standards. Despite the call from the Governor and several resolutions passed by school boards calling for them to rescind these new educational standards, the Nebraska State Board of Education continues to ignore these calls and do their own thing.

The Nebraska Department of Education has a serious credibility problem. But don’t just take this from me. Last week I received a letter from the Education Commissioner, Matthew Blomstedt, which said that he and the State Board of Education are currently experiencing “a crisis of confidence” due to the controversy which has arisen over these new education standards. “A crisis of confidence” are his words, not mine!

There are good reasons why the State Board of Education is experiencing a crisis of confidence. To put it simply, they do not shoot straight with the people of Nebraska and they leave parents in a position of having to guess about what may be coming down the pike for their children.

Matthew Blomstedt, the Education Commissioner, continues to mislead the public. In the same letter that I received last week from the Education Commissioner, he made the following statement, “I, like most of you, were not familiar with Critical Race Theory (CRT)…” Really? If that really was the case, then why did he say in his “Points of Clarification” letter dated May 7, 2021 that “Critical Race Theory was not used to develop the proposed draft of the Nebraska Health Education Standards”? Why would he make such a bold claim without knowing what CRT actually is? CRT is clearly embedded in the first draft of the newly proposed education standards. So, did he not read the first draft?

Even if we take him at his word, the commissioner has admitted that he is unfamiliar with the latest trends in educational theory. Nebraska needs a commissioner who is competent and who is familiar with the latest trends in educational theory. The only way we can effectively steer Nebraska’s public educational system into the future is by having a competent person at the helm, who is familiar with these latest trends in educational theory and who can carefully and critically evaluate them.

The State Board of Education is now backpedaling and trying to dupe the public by using double-speak. I believe the State Board of Education intends to move forward with a second draft which will contain a milder form of its ideology. Here’s why. The letter I received last week stated that the second draft would remove some of the more “explicit examples” but said nothing about altering the overall message or content of the standards. The letter also said the State Board of Education intends to “reframe sensitive topics” instead of deleting them altogether.

The people of Nebraska have spoken loud and clear. The vast majority of the people of Nebraska do not want such things as sexual orientation, gender identity, and Critical Race Theory “reframed” and taught to their children; instead, they want these things deleted from the educational standards altogether. Until the State Board of Education bends its ear and its agenda to the will of the people, I believe this crisis of confidence will continue to grow. To be sure, if all we get is a milder form of the first draft without complete deletions of the controversial material, it will be time to call for the resignations of every member of the State Board of Education including that of the Education Commissioner.

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