The president of the Nebraska State Education Association is in Chicago for today’s opening of the annual meeting of the National Education Association.
Jess Wolf says he’s hoping several issues will be addressed during the five-day summit which will have relevance at all levels.
“The concerns for Nebraska are much the same as they are across the country,” Wolf says. “We’ve faced some issues under this legislative session with collective bargaining, teachers’ salaries and compensation that goes from state aid to the school districts.”
He says recruiting and keeping the best and brightest teachers is a continuing challenge for Nebraska and for many other states.
“One of the things that we try to work on in Nebraska, and it’s getting a lot of attention, is teacher preparation, making sure that the best people get into the profession and also that they get good training while they’re preparing to become teachers, and finally, that we be able to keep them.”
He says recruitment and retention of top teachers is tough.
“We’re still having 50% of the people who are trained to be teachers in Nebraska never teach in Nebraska and the other 50% that do start teaching in Nebraska, we lose about half of them in the first five years,” Wolf says. “Getting the best people into the profession is really important but also keeping them is really important.”
He says it’s frustrating to see state aid to schools dwindle.
“Targeting Nebraska’s educators and their 43rd in the nation average salaries as responsible for the need to cut budgets is nonsensical and threatens our students’ right to a great public school education,” he says.