Gov. Dave Heineman said that he doesn’t want to prejudice the work of a
newly formed education council by listing what he hopes it will
achieve. But he said there are creative thinkers involved who will look
at the state’s education system to see what improvements can be made.
However, none of those involved include representatives from the state’s Hispanic population or other minority groups.
That doesn’t mean the 13-member Nebraska Educational Leadership Council
won’t grow to include such representation, the governor said at a news
conference. At least initially, the goal was to bring leaders of
various educational and business groups together, Heineman said.
In addition to Heineman, the group includes University of Nebraska
President J.B. Milliken, state Education Commissioner Doug Christensen,
as well as representatives of the state college system, community
colleges, independent colleges and universities. Also included are the
Nebraska Farm Bureau, the state Chamber of Commerce and three members
representing parents and private interests.
Heineman will serve as co-chair along with state Sen. Ron Raikes, chairman of the Legislature’s Education Committee.
The governor’s defense of the group’s makeup came after Christensen
said one of the biggest issues facing the state was ensuring the number
of students in poverty and learning the English language get the
education they need to succeed.
Even though those groups aren’t represented on the council, Christensen
said those who are members have numerous connections to minority groups
and can ensure their voice is heard. He mentioned that the state
Department of Education has held a Latino-Hispanic summit for three
years and has met on American Indian issues for seven years.
While the governor was reticent to list what he hopes the new group
achieves, he said it will address the challenges and opportunities of
international competition and work on improving education from
preschool through the workforce. The governor said his focus will be on
finding ways to increase academic rigor, particularly in math and
science, encourage more parental involvement and improve partnerships
between higher education and the K-12 system.
— Associated Press
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