Nebraska Education Commissioner Matt Blomstedt says some students have been harassed and bullied while on school grounds.
“We’ve had incidents where we feel our students have been bullied, sometimes based on race, sometimes based on abilities, and I would tell you this is really a challenge for us across the state and across the country; that we have to be thoughtful about how our schools lead and insuring that we’re building the right future citizenry,” Bloomstedt tells reporters during a news conference outside the state Capitol.
Blomstedt casts the issue as a matter of leadership; that school officials and teachers must promote an atmosphere which respects the human dignity of all students.
A number of educational groups have signed a statement of principle, asserting the rights of all students based upon the principles expressed in the documents upon which the nation and the state were founded.
“We know that there is a lot more work than words to put into this as well,” Blomstedt says. “We know that we have to be dedicated to thinking about how we make a difference. Our student population is going to look different over the next 30 to 40 years.”
Blomstedt says state school officials felt they needed to act after several ugly incidents occurred in which students were harassed, usually tinged with a racial component. Some of the bullying happens in the classroom, some on the playground, some at sporting events.
Blomstedt calls the fight against bullying a matter of leadership; a responsibility of all teachers and school officials.
“We have a lot of things that happen in schools and a lot of expectations on schools to serve all those different needs of individual students,” according to Blomstedt. “Our most important thing is how our students receive that level of respect within schools, how they’re treated within schools, because with that we can make progress for every single student in the state of Nebraska.”
Blomstedt says schools will address past inequities by focusing on opportunities to learn from all students.