Department of Education Board Expected to Vote on Pausing Health Education Standards Process

Sept. 2, 2021, 12:45 p.m. ·

Nebraska Department of Education meeting
Nebraska Department of Education board member Maureen Nickels and Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt at public hearing on proposed health standards in Kearney. (Photo from web stream)

Listen To This Story

Board members with the Nebraska Department of Education are expected to vote Friday on whether to postpone any decision on proposed health education standards. A “yes” vote could shelve the standards indefinitely.

Earlier this week, a 4-person board committee recommended the full board pause the process of deciding on health education standards, including controversial curriculum on sex education and gender identity. Now the full board will decide on whether to accept that recommendation, with five votes needed to put the process on hold.

“If they do vote to postpone the health standards, what that basically means is that we’re putting effectively a pause on the entire system until after a lengthy period of time,” Nebraska Department of Education spokesman David Jespersen said. “What we’ve got written down in the statement right now is until after the COVID pandemic.”

Jespersen said the board has heard from school administrators across the state who say they have other things to worry about right now.

“What they’ve asked the Department of Education is, anything that’s not required right now, can we just back-off a little bit, slow down and take a break on those things so we can focus on what is necessary and required by law and COVID mitigation and getting kids through school and as safe as possible staying in those classrooms,” Jespersen said.

Health education standards aren’t required by state law, but Jespersen said it’s the only content area that doesn’t have some sort of curriculum template for districts to follow. If board members decide to reject the committee’s recommendation, they could vote to approve the health standards sometime this fall.