Education is another issue of importance to the state. Nebraska has an obligation to educate its young people. There may be no greater legacy to leave the young people of Nebraska than an opportunity to learn. An education is an essential ingredient in creating an informed and active citizenry; to providing each person with the skills necessary to succeed in the economy of the 21st century; and to creating an intellectual environment conducive to attracting new business and new people to our state.
PreK- 12 and higher education need to be priorities in Nebraska. The legislature must insure that the educational standards that are set for Nebraska's public schools are adequate to prepare active and effective citizens and that the standards truly meet the demands of the emerging job market of this century. Every student must be prepared for some type of post secondary education. If the state is going to set the standards, then the state needs to help ensure that all of the state's students have an equal opportunity to meet those standards. Part of what the state must be willing to do to help ensure quality education is to be prepared to fund it and to stabilize the funding mechanism so that schools can adequately plan to meet the growing demands put before them. There must be highly qualified teachers in the classroom and we must have systems in place to follow student progress P -16.
As chairman of the Education Committee, I have spent much of the last two interim periods travelling the state visiting schools, administrators, and teachers. The discussions and visits have been valuable. First, they have helped me get an even better feel for the issues and how varying size schools are affected. Second, the trips have allowed the schools to get to know me. In many cases the small rural schools that I visited, particularly in the more western part of the state, were grateful just for the simple opportunity to be heard. We have good schools in Nebraska; but, continual population shifts combined with significant geographic disparity and limited revenues create real issues in education in Nebraska. In the 2007 and 2008 legislative session as a member of the education committee and beginning in 2009 as the chair of the committee, I have had an opportunity to help with the passage of bills that equalize and enhance state funding for K-12 schools, educational service units and community colleges. We also passed legislation in 2007 creating a new structure for providing equal educational opportunities to all students in the Omaha metropolitan area.. "In leading much of the floor debate on the Omaha school legislation, Adams demonstrated strong qualities: eloquence, an even temper, a quick mind and a generous spirit." (Editorial, June 4, 2007 Omaha World Herald) In addition to the ongoing challenges of providing good education to all students in the state, I am co-chairing the P-16 Initiative which is an effort to increase the rigor in our high school curriculum, reduce the drop out rate, close the achievement gap, and graduate more students from some type of post secondary institution.