The Pathway to College and Career Ready


Rachel Wise

Rachel Wise

Rachel Wise, District 3, Nebraska State Board of Education

The Pathway to College and Career Ready

In this article I want to reinforce the pathway the Nebraska State Board of Education and the Nebraska Department of Education have ventured down to ensure all Nebraska students are college and career ready. This path begins with academic standards, which were one of the key agenda items at the February work session. The State Board of Education was updated on the Nebraska process for developing standards and added a public comment period to gather input, questions and/or concerns regarding Nebraska standards, including the draft fine arts standards. As I shared in an article in 2013, Nebraska statutes require the State Board of Education to adopt standards in reading/writing, mathematics, science and social studies. State law also requires the State Board to review academic standards every five years. This review includes an analysis of standards at a national level and those from other states. The primary authors of Nebraska standards are Nebraska teachers–elementary teachers, secondary teachers and faculty from community colleges, colleges and universities. Nebraska College and Career Ready standards will have the rigor and depth needed to prepare our high school graduates to be successful in their first-year credit bearing courses at postsecondary institutions or for career training and employment.

Proposed legislation is a major focus for the State Board of Education in January and February. The Board spent quite a bit of time this month reviewing legislative bills that may have a direct or indirect impact on the Nebraska Department of Education and/or local school districts. As I stated last year, the Board may support, oppose or remain neutral on legislative bills and resolutions. Some bills are technical bills intended to improve processes. Some bills would create new opportunities for local schools, students and families while some bills raise issues that need to be explored or addressed.  However, in my opinion, some issues could be addressed in ways that do not require legislation.

I would like you to indulge me for a moment while I vent on a resolution that would dismantle the State Board of Education. LR421CA would eliminate the State Board of Education and replace it with an Education Commissioner appointed by the Governor. Some may think that I am self-serving to say STOP LR421CA! However, this is not about me or my elected colleagues on the Board. This is about what we — the citizens of Nebraska want–and I want education to stay in the hands of elected citizens at the local level and at the state level. Many people would say the Governor is elected, therefore education stays in the hands of Nebraska citizens. I would say that a regionally elected, non-partisan State Board of Education provides two very important benefits for the citizens of Nebraska. One, as a body of eight elected representatives, Board members collectively have a broader, more diverse view of the needs of students, families and communities throughout Nebraska. Two, as a body of eight, the Board provides a vision and continuity in educational policy and in the rule-making process that schools abide by. Enough about LR421CA, next month I will write about a couple of great things our friends in the Legislature are proposing that can have a positive impact on Nebraska.

This article represents my personal view, not that of the State Board of Education or my role as president. Feel free to contact me at Search the Nebraska Department of Education website at to learn more about education in our state.

About katcountryhub
I am a graduate of Northeast Community College with a degree in journalism. I am married to Jeff Gilliland. We have two grown children, Justin and Whitney and four grandchildren, Grayce, Grayhm, Charli and Penelope. I will be covering Lyons, Decatur, Bancroft and Rosalie and am hoping to expand my horizons as time progresses!

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