New civic rules not a challenge for MPS teachers

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

McCOOK, Neb. — Teachers at McCook Public Schools will not have to change much when it comes to implementing the new civics requirements the Nebraska Legislature recently approved.

That’s because educators at MPS already do many of the required elements, said Superintendent Grant Norgaard at the regular McCook Board of Education Monday night.

This includes learning patriotic songs and about American and Nebraska history in the elementary grades, he said.

New components that go into effect next year would be administering the naturalization test twice before 11th grade. A project or paper could be substituted once for the test, he said.

Other requirements include that the Americanism Committee would be called the American Civics Committee and meet twice a year, with a public hearing once a year for public comment. The misdemeanor charge for failing to follow Americanism curriculum was also removed.

Board president Tom Bredvick commented that while the Unicameral wants to make sure schools take Americanism seriously, he noted the Department of Education already has standards for teaching civics.

The main goal of the new requirements is to make sure that “nothing positive” is being taught on communism or Nazism, Norgaard said.

The intent appears to be that students not just recite and state facts but believe it, Bredvick said, which would be difficult to show. He also said he has difficulty with the “state telling you how to feel about something,” although for himself, he believes strongly in patriotism and love of country.

Bredvick also updated the board on the recent program committee meeting. Topics discussed at the meeting included past and present practices for advanced physical science and developing a curriculum, drug testing/education, expanding dual credit courses at McCook Community College and communications with parents.

Members of the program committee are Dennis Berry, Loretta Hauxwell and Bredvick.

The facilities committee meeting was discussed by chair, board member Loretta Hauxwell. Based on a building inspection summary in a report by McCook Schools business manager John Brazell, the junior high building is the biggest challenge, with the settling of the building and some leaking due to rain or groundwater. Hauxwell said the committee also discussed the financial state of the district, including outside sources of funding and creative partnerships and grants.

Brazell told the board that he’s exploring the availability of a one percent energy loan to replace current lighting at the school district with LED lighting, based on if savings from the new lighting would pay for the upgrade.

Members of the facilities committee are board members Brad Hays, Teresa Thomas and Hauxwell.

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