More than 20 concerned citizens gathered at the Brady Community Center on June 1 to discuss the Nebraska Board of Education’s proposed state health standards for public schools. The board sets the state standards for all core classes taught in Nebraska’s public schools, but this is the first time standards for health education have ever been suggested. And much of the wording in the drafts that have come out so far has many parents speaking out.
Amanda Ristine of Gothenburg has been an active opponent to the health standards proposal, and joined by a representative of Protect Nebraska Children she presented information to the Brady group from the research she has done. However, Ristine repeatedly encouraged everyone in the room to do their own investigating and not just take her word on things.
Ristine has also attended meetings of the State Board of Education at which she has publicly shared her opinion. “For those of you who don’t know, when Draft 1 was written it was opened up for community comments so people could go on and share what they like and what they don’t like. That draft has already been sent back for rewrites and revisions, and they are working on Draft 2 to be coming out sometime in June,” Ristine shared.
The specific portions of the proposed health standards that has Ristine and many other parents concerned are the sex education and critical race theory portions of the draft. Ristine also shared concerns about some of the “experts” that contributed to writing the standards and their agendas. “I encourage you to Google these people and do your own research. That will tell you all you need to know,” Ristine said.
Several handouts of information were provided to those in attendance at the Brady meeting, including the list of subject matter experts who were asked to provide feedback on the content included in Draft 1. “They keep telling us that these standards will be optional - schools do not have to adopt them. But then schools would have to write their own, but that’s very time consuming and I assume it’s a very thankless job and it costs money,” said Ristine. “My question is, why are they writing something that is optional? To me that’s a red flag.”
“And as Nebraskans we need to care about what is being taught to the kids in the next town over. Our kids play ball with them and socialize with them. These are our future leaders,” added Elizabeth Tegtimeier from the Protect Nebraska Children Coalition.
Marge Spencer, a retired educator and member of the Brady school board was present at the meeting and stated that the local school board has publicly taken a stand against the proposed standards. She, like the others in the room, shared concerns that so many parents are still in the dark about the proposal - and helping educate people is the purpose of community meetings like this.
“You have to read the 60 pages of the draft to really get a grasp of what’s going on and to help educate other people,” said Ristine. “Do your own research and have those conversations.”