Nebraskans are collecting signatures for a 2022 ballot initiative that would dissolve several key education positions, replacing them with a new office that reports only to the governor.
The petition seeks to dismantle the state’s Department of Education, elected School Board, and School Board Commissioner through a constitutional amendment which would create a new Office of Education, overseen by the governor’s office.
That stems mostly from Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts’ multiple clashes with the state’s school board this year over its proposed updates to the state’s health education standards.
The updated standards would have incorporated lessons about gender identity and sexual orientation in school health classes. The board in September said those plans would be postponed indefinitely following fierce backlash.
Ricketts has also called for the removal of the 1619 Project and the Zinn Education Project, two education initiatives focused on race and social justice, from a list of resources on the Nebraska Department of Education’s website.
Ricketts called the 1619 project, which aims to reframe American history by using the year the first African slaves arrived in Virginia as the nation’s foundational date, “revisionist history.”
Despite his own beliefs, Ricketts said in a statement to the Omaha World-Herald that any changes to the state’s current structure would have to be approved by voters.
“The Nebraska Department of Education should respect that parents are the primary educators of their children, and the agency must continue to be accountable to the people of Nebraska,” he said.
The Petition has until July 7 to garner about 125,000 signatures to put the measure on the November 2022 ballot, and signatures must be collected from 5 percent of registered voters in 38 of 93 Nebraska counties, according to the Nebraska Secretary of State’s Office.
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