Nebraska education board takes step that could revive health standards
Kirk Penner was the sole vote against the motion
LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – The Nebraska State Board of Education voted 6 to 1 on Friday to authorize an ad hoc committee to draft standards on all areas of education, including health.
The standards would then be voted on by the board.
Kirk Penner was the only board member who voted against this motion.
“I do oppose this, and I will not be voting for it,” he said. “As I mentioned last time, it is kind of backdooring the health standards in my opinion. I’m interested to see, as those go to that committee and come back, on the compromise, let’s see if those health standards come back with some compromises here. Let’s see if they come back with the same topics that has cost this board the trust and credibility of the citizens of the state of Nebraska.”
Compromise was brought up a lot during this month’s meeting. Even a parent had a suggestion during public comment.
“I have a compromise suggestion for you: Take out the tiny part of these proposed standards that is based on political ideologies that confuse children about their identity and sexuality and keep the vast majority of the standards that are academic and scientific and healthy in content,” Liz Davids said. “Would we accept them then?”
The board heard public comment from a few supporters of the standards for the first time in a few months.
“We should adopt the health education standards,” Garren Hochstetler said. “The main reason for opposition to these standards is that they acknowledge the existence of queer people. You can’t protect Nebraska children without protecting the several thousand transgender children and teens who are in Nebraska schools today.”
Penner said that when it comes time to vote on the standards, he typically differs from the other board members. He has worries about these standards changing Title IX sports, among other things.
“I believe that’s where the board wants to go, 7 of you, not me, that’s my opinion,” he said. “I don’t want to go down the road where we’re destroying and not protecting our granddaughters and daughters and sons. That’s where I’m at. Somebody’s got to say it; I just happen to be the guy.”
Board member Deborah Neary said Nebraska is one of only two states that does not have health education standards. She feels that it is the board’s moral obligation to protect all children.
“Make an effort to understand the needs of all of the children in our schools across Nebraska,” she said. “There’s a lot to that that is being left out of the conversation when we’re just talking about your children and grandchildren.”
The ad hoc committee will now move forward with drafting standards, which then will be voted on by the board.
No timeline was given as to when to expect the standards, but the next meeting with public comment will be April 8.