Getting Back to School

Back to school sales are on, and parents are shopping for the crayons, calculators, and other supplies their kids will need for the first day of classes.  Before long, school buses will be on the roads, and college campuses will be abuzz with students returning for the fall semester.  Private schools will welcome back students with chapel or mass, and families that home school will resume study.

As the school year begins, it’s a good time to reflect on how our schools are performing. Nebraska’s support of education remains consistently high.  Nebraskans spend more per pupil each year than all neighboring states except Wyoming.  While our financial commitment is high, we have more work to do to improve educational outcomes.  Globally, the United States finds itself in the middle of the pack on test scores.  As assessed by ACT/ SAT scores, Nebraska ranks in the middle of the pack (#28) nationally for college readiness.  We’re paying close attention to the quality of education in our public schools and working to expand school choice to help kids achieve their dreams.

Of course, education involves more than standardized tests, as important as these are.  Through teaching history and political science, we can also help students gain appreciation of the principles, sacrifices, and reforms that have given rise to our cherished political liberties.  For instance, Nebraska played a significant role in America’s suffrage movement, with a major campaign taking place from 1881-1882 to give women the right to vote in our state.  Though unsuccessful in the short-run, the effort built support for women’s suffrage across Nebraska.  By the time Nebraska’s Legislature voted on the 19th amendment in August of 1919 (100 years ago), it received unanimous support.  We want Nebraskans to learn the story of these major moments in history so that they enter adulthood with the ability to make informed judgments about the future of our state and country.  


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