A Nebraska state senator from the panhandle is calling for the entire Nebraska Board of Education to be replaced.
In his latest weekly column, Steve Erdman of Bayard said it's time to formally call for every member of the board and Nebraska Education Commissioner Matthew Blomstedt to resign.
He wrote each member has failed to listen to the people of the state, to adequately reform the sex education standards and to educate Nebraska's students.
"Instead of doing what the vast majority of the people want and what is best for our students, they have insisted upon promoting their own Left-wing ideological agenda," Erdman wrote.
The state senator criticized the board for consulting the group Sexual Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) while writing each draft. He also expressed concern on the lack of conservative parents, private school administrators and clergy from the writing process.
Private schools are not required to follow any education standards put forth by the Nebraska Department of Education. Public schools are only required to follow state standards for history, science and math. Others are optional and districts can use them to help form their own curriculums or standards on other subjects.
Erdman claimed in his column the second draft of the health education standards, "effectively changed nothing."
The second draft, released by the Nebraska Department of Education in late July, did remove many, but not all, references to sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
The first draft of the standards received heavy criticism from parents, schools boards, state senators and even Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Draft one included discussions about gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation as early as third grade.
The second draft scraps all references to sexual orientation and only mentions recognizing gender identity in seventh grade topics.
For Erdman, that's not enough.
While referencing the seventh grade topic, Erdman wrote, "Worded this way, the new state standards will allow even the most extreme activists for the LGBTQ+ movement to indoctrinate students inside our schools with their own views on sexual orientations and gender identity. Nebraska's parents asked the State Board of Education to remove this item altogether, not to reword it in a more palatable and less offensive way."
Erdman also said the state board has failed to educate the state's students. Erdman cited the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which says Nebraska ranks 51st (dead last among the 50 states and Washington D.C.) in education performance.
According to ALEC, their rankings are based on state academic standards, charter schools, homeschool regulation burden, private school choice programs, teacher quality and policies and digital learning.
Other organizations that use different factors to determine rankings have starkly different results. U.S. News and World Report, for example, ranked Nebraska as the 13th-best state for PreK-12 education. Their rankings were based on college readiness, high school graduation rate, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) math and reading test scores and preschool enrollment.
NAEP tests are what the U.S. uses to put together its national report card. In Nebraska, the tests are administered at the 4th and 8th grade levels. According to the latest round of exams in 2019, Nebraska students scored above the national average in math and reading at both grade levels, although the average score for the state was down from 2017.