Senator Albrecht’s Weekly Update

Senator Albrecht’s Weekly Update
June 5th, 2021 | Office of State Senator Joni Albrecht

107TH LEGISLATURE INTERIM

I hope your summer is off to a good start and you are enjoying the great sunshine. This week I’ve caught up on my mowing and had a houseful of grandkids! Life is good!
In addition to taking calls about valuations this week, my office has heard from many people who are concerned about the new Health Standards being proposed by the State
Board of Education. I am making it my quest this summer to travel the State to get answers. I want to listen to the Second House- the people of Nebraska.
To get you up to date, I decided to pull Legislative Resolution 228 and am holding LB 281 “Erin’s Law” on Select File until the Second Session of the 107th Legislature, due to my concern about the content in the Health Standards proposed by the Nebraska Department of Education. LB 281, “Erin’s Law”, would require schools to provide four hours of training to students in K-12, and teacher training and parental advisement as a preventative method for helping reduce incidents of child sexual abuse. Though the bill was my Priority Bill, and I felt confident that I had the votes to move it forward, I decided to leave it sitting in Select File until next Session. Erin’s Law addresses a very delicate topic, and needs to be handled with great care. I am concerned that if I move forward with the bill at this time, it could become part of the
larger agenda put forth by the Department of Education. I plan to wait until I feel confident that LB 281 won’t be convoluted with the Health Standards in any way. LB 281
is currently in 37 other states, and there are amazing, appropriate curriculums that are being taught without us having to worry about our children learning topics and materials we don’t want them to be exposed to.

This March, approximately two weeks after I presented my bill to the Education Committee, the Nebraska Department of Education released the first ever draft of Health
Education Standards. The Standards contain explicite material about human development and sex education, and have been the focus of significant unrest in parents and citizens across Nebraska since its release. My office orchestrated a letter from myself and 28 other Senators to the State Board of Education and Commissioner Blomstedt expressing our deep concern about the sex education content included in the material. The Nebraska Legislature has repeatedly rejected efforts to mandate so-called comprehensive sex education curriculum. Yet, the proposed Standards are a back door attempt to propose what the people of this State have rejected. And that in doing so, the proposed Standards violate the right of parents as the first educators of their child (especially in matters of human sexuality).

There are many Legislative Resolutions going on in the Legislature this summer. But in order to control the narrative and outcome of a study like LR 228 would have been, I will be working with my 28 colleagues to hold town hall meetings in Districts around the State to listen to the hearts of the people and communicate back to the State Board about what we are hearing. Together we will research student protection, the new Health Standards, internet uses and content both taught and available to students in Nebraska’s schools.

Friday morning my staff and I attended the State Board of Education meeting in Kearney. Approximately 500 people were gathered to show their concern. The Board limited the
testifiers to 75 people, but let me tell you, they were sharp, articulate, powerful 2 minute testimonies by people of all ages and walks of life. It is important for us to keep in mind that the State Board of Education is an elected, constitutional body. We vote them into office. The purpose of the Board is to set policy and ensure that the State Department of Education functions effectively within the framework developed by the State Legislature and the Board. By law, the Board and the Department have broad leadership functions to carry out certain regulatory and service activities. That being said, the level of power and influence awarded these members, selected by us and Nebraska citizens, is significant, and needs to be held in check. Though the local Districts ultimately decide what is taught in each school, the unspoken
pressure to comply with the State Department of Education leadership is real and needs to be looked at. What our kids learn in school is essentially determined by this Board.
Their choices this year to publish a draft of Health Standards is concerning to tens of thousands of parents and grandparents in the State. To review the entire document for yourself and let the State Department of Education know what you think. Information about submitting public comments as the next Board meeting as well as a draft of the proposed Health Education Standards are available at: https://www.education.ne.gov/healthed/health-education-standards-development/ The Board will meet next on August 6. I believe it is a vital time for all Nebraskans to stay informed and engaged in making our voices heard for the sake of our children. If you want to get involved, written Public Comment will open on July 29. People who wish to address the Board in person at the meeting should plan to arrive and sign-in with official
NDE representatives before 9:00 am.I also suggest that you contact your local school board members and suggest that they too read the Heath Standards and send letters if they are concerned.

The members of the State Board of Education can be contacted at the email address below. I would suggest you copy all members on your communication. Patricia Koch Johns- patsy.kochjohns@nebraska.gov Lisa Fricke- lisa.fricke@nebraska.gov Patti Grubbels- patti.gubbels@nebraska.gov

Jacquelyn Morrison- jacquelyn.r.morrison@nebraska.gov
Patricia Timm- patricia.timm@nebraska.gov
Maureen Nickels- maureen.nickels@nebraska.gov
Robin Stevens- robin.stevens@nebraska.gov
Deborah Neary- deborah.neary@nebraska.gov
Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt- matt.blomstedt@nebraska.gov
DISTRICT 17 COVID-19
The number of positive tests reported for the periods May 29, 2021 to June 4, 2021 in
District 17 are as follow:
Dakota County +3 (4136)
Thurston County: +0 (1188)
Wayne County: +0 (1162)

As always, it is of great importance that I hear from my constituents to effectively do my job as your voice in the Legislature. I encourage you to contact me and I look forward to hearing from you. You can reach me at 402-471-2716 or jalbrecht@leg.ne.gov.

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