Nebraska Education Committee holds hearing on curriculum, parental control

Many different opinions were expressed during Monday’s session
An education committee hearing in Nebraska brought about many hot-button topics, including history curriculum and parental control.
Published: Jul. 31, 2023 at 7:05 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The Education Committee of the Nebraska Legislature tackled three subjects in one during a hearing Monday afternoon.

The debate became more about social issues than reading or writing, including questions over the recent controversy with education curriculum changes in Florida.

Sen. Danielle Conrad asked a question of fellow Sen. Dave Murman.

“Part of the curriculum changes [in Florida] prompted some of the learning materials there indicating that slavery was a benefit to African-Americans. Do you agree with that?” Sen. Conrad asked.

“Well, no,” Murman replied. “Slavery is wrong. There’s no doubt about that. But hopefully, we all benefit one way or another from our background. I’m not saying specifically slavery.”

Sen. Murman testified that more needs to be done in Nebraska schools.

He believes courses to help with social and emotional learning are going too far -- bringing race and gender too much into the equation -- and that the parents need more say.

An education committee hearing saw components such as parental control and curriculum come up in discussion.

“Last summer, a few colleagues called for an inquiry about the projection of critical race theory into the professional development of teachers,” Murman said.

The new Nebraska Education Commissioner, Brian Maher, who’s just a month into his job, told the committee he’s focused on the top issues: the teacher shortage, test scores, and overall, how to be better.

“We need different voices around the table,” Maher said. “We’ll never get away from the controversial issues, but we need to have a process in place.”

Others testified that what is taking place now is working.

Mike Pate with the Millard School Board says parental input remains a key value, but that some of the changes proposed would take away local control.

“Creation of an online transparency portal would be excessively cumbersome for teachers and costly for districts as it would be required to be updated weekly and monthly,” Pate said. “Districts have policies now from state statutes where parents can review any of the materials outlined in the bill.”

The public was not invited to Monday’s hearing. The Chair of the Education Committee, Sen. Murman, handed out invites to people he thought would cover all perspectives.

It’s not clear whether enough was heard today in order to craft a bill addressing these topics to be introduced next year.