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Governor makes good point on school calendar
Gov. Dave Heineman's designation of education as a priority for the coming years is appropriate, especially because he coupled it with economic growth and governmental efficiency.
It's especially fitting in light of the state's precarious fiscal condition that Heineman didn't propose simply throwing money at the educational system in hopes that it improves.
While acknowledging that Nebraska already has an effective educational system, the governor touted new graduation requirements of four years of English and three years of math, science and social students. Those are vital changes if Nebraska graduates are to be able to compete in the future.
Also important, as Heineman noted, are opportunities to learn at home, increased parental involvement, quality teachers and administration, and the creation of a new "virtual high school" will take advantage of technologies tailor-made for widely-scattered Nebraska students.
Those technologies weren't even dreamed of years ago when the state's educational system was created -- a factor Heineman also cited in calling for a re-examination of the school calendar.
" ... Nebraska needs to reform its school day and school year," Heineman said. "The needs of students have changed dramatically during the past century, yet our American education system continues to rely upon a 100-year-old school calendar. School districts need to examine their current school day and school year with a focus on increasing learning opportunities. School leaders and parents must work together to develop effective strategies to use time more effectively."
The governor makes a good point; student minds and school facilities are too valuable to allow them to lay idle for months at a time. Implementation of some type of year-round school would make better use of both.
Accomplishing that with a "redirection of current financial resources at the school district level, including diverting resources from lawyers and lobbyists to the classroom," as Heineman said, will be the tricky part.
But doing so without increasing taxes that make the state less desirable for individuals and businesses, is vital.
Otherwise, without an improved economy and the jobs that come with it, those better-educated Nebraska graduates will seek greener pastures and the state's brain drain will continue.