Need to Fix No Child Left Behind Nationally

Rachel Wise, District 3, Nebraska State Board of Education 

In March, I had an opportunity to attend the National Association of State Boards of Education’s board of directors meeting and legislative policy forum. As a member of the board of directors of this organization, I have had an opportunity to learn about educational issues around the country from my colleagues serving on state boards of education in other states. This month, I want to share some activities happening nationally as well as a few important initiatives underway “at home” here in Nebraska.

Nationally, the biggest issue is the need to fix or reauthorize a very broken Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) titled No Child Left Behind. I feel like a broken record, bringing this issue up every month! However, this month there is a glimmer of hope! It is anticipated that the House of Representatives will vote on its bill when Congress returns to Washington D. C, after its break. This week a draft bipartisan Senate bill has been made public. Apparently, the House and the Senate— from a bipartisan perspective—concur that ESEA needs to be reauthorized and that states should have greater control of education as they once did!

At the conference I attended a session on the effective use of digital educational resources and technology. Technology is significantly impacting our lives and education. Technology has changed my life! With the help of our great Nebraska public libraries and the application called OverDrive, I can use my phone to listen to a book while I am walking, cleaning the house or on the road. Technology can have a positive change in the classroom! Classroom teachers are engaging students with digital resources and a variety of applications. These are the new tools of the trade for teachers at all grade levels. An open educational resource is the term used to define a host of digital resources that teachers can access at low or no cost. Some states have created statewide networks to help teachers more easily access digital materials and resources. In Nebraska, we have resources and digital tools in place, but we need a statewide plan that allows educators easy access similar to the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries, which has expanded access to eBooks and audio books through the public library network. All Nebraska students, teachers and parents ought to have key educational resources at their fingertips through a few easy clicks on a phone or a tablet.

In April, the Nebraska State Board of Education released a draft of the new mathematics standards for public input. If you go to the Nebraska Department of Education website at the link below, you can review and provide comments on these draft standards. As Nebraskans, we should take pride in the process used to develop academic content standards. Nebraska teachers—with input from business, post-secondary education and the public—write the standards and then seek input in multiple ways, including the survey on the NDE website.

This month the board also reviewed the Nebraska Coordinated School Health program, and NDE’s role in providing support for schools in health education, human growth and development and sex education. This role involves providing resources and support to schools as they work to develop curriculum and strategies that work well for local school districts. While NDE provides resources and support, it is the responsibility of local school districts—with input from their communities and their locally-elected school boards —to address these sensitive and sometimes controversial issues within their individual communities. Each community has unique needs and challenges. Who knows better how to deal with those issues other than local community members and parents of children in the school district? One reason I ran for the State Board of Education was to become an advocate for a balance in the responsibilities between state and locally-elected school board members. The approach taken with the Nebraska Coordinated School Health program is balanced, respectful and has led to a meaningful process and practice.

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.

Rachel Wise

Rachel Wise

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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