A Message From Dr. Bell  

November 01, 2013
This has been quite an interesting month. I attended the Association of Educational Service Agencies Federal Advocacy Conference in Washington D.C. the last week in September. Although the Nebraska delegation are fine people and concerned about the wants and needs of all Nebraskans, I was once again disheartened by the lack of action and the inability of our aggregate elected and assembled leaders to compromise and find solutions for problems. As a matter of fact, the entire federal government shut down the week after I left. I just want to let you all know that was not my fault!  

As many in this reading audience already know, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization is five years past due. This is just one of many concerns that have resulted from congressional inaction. I could list a long litany of woes, but will settle for the need to continue/expand funding and streamline paperwork for E-rate funding which is so important for our schools as the importance and use of technology for instruction continues to expand at a rapid rate in school districts; the need to fully fund IDEA to meet the expanding costs as school districts comply with Rule 51 to meet the needs of special population students; and, the need to address the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act which has not been reauthorized since 2006.  

Please stay informed and make your opinions known to your elected leaders, no matter what those opinions might be.  

The good news in this article is that the Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council is working diligently with staff from the Nebraska Department of Education to identify and develop statewide initiatives. I have shared these with you in the past, but the current initiatives are: BlendEd, Teacher/Principal Evaluation, and Statewide Longitudinal Data Projects. ESU 10 staff is working to best determine our role in the statewide process as we “partner with our customers to meet changing needs through professional expertise, training, and support.”  This is an on-going process with the key phrase being “changing needs”.  

This really is a dynamic world in which we live and work. At the last collaboration meeting – there’s that word again – Brian Halstead, NDE Assistant Commissioner opined, “Do you want to wait for the federal government to tell us what to do or are we going to control our own destiny by deciding what we as Nebraskans need to do?”  I hope those in attendance took this as a rhetorical question because Mr. Halstead was succinctly accurate.  

The work continues.