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A Message From Dr. Bell

October 05, 2015

What a cliffhanger! I’m sure that all of you have been on the edge of your seats all month after reading that a change in the ESU 10 mission statement was looming. Well, after serious thought and effort by staff, the ESU 10 Board of Directors has adopted the following mission statement that better identifies the purpose of this organization.

Educational Service Unit 10’s Mission is:
To partner with stakeholders to meet changing needs through professional expertise in providing services, learning opportunities, and support.

The changes to the former mission statement were small, yet significant, in their focus. All of you are now considered stakeholders instead of customers which implies you are more closely tied to what happens around here and help develop programs and services instead of just receiving them. This creates a more interactive culture. It also highlights that we will emphasize the development of professional expertise and that becomes the overarching quality assurance that you will receive the best possible service, learning opportunities, and support. I really like the changes and it shouldn’t take me more than 5 years to memorize the new mission. Our motto continues to be “Our focus is on serving you.”   

I just returned from my annual pilgrimage to Washington D.C. where I attended the Association of Educational Service Agencies (AESA) Educators’ Call to Action Federal Advocacy Conference. Jeff West from Scottsbluff (ESU 13) and I were the Nebraska delegation. It was probably one of the most hopeful experiences we have had there in the last 8 years. It would appear that after 8 years of acrimony that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) might actually get reauthorized. It’s not a done deal yet, but both houses have adopted similar bills and now are working on a conferenced bill which would be submitted to the President for approval. One thing I have learned about Congress over the years is that activity does not always mean productivity, but at least things are looking optimistic. There is divided opinion as to whether or not the President will sign the bill. Time will tell and we will see. There are many moving parts to the bill, but the biggest things for all of us in Nebraska to note is that both bills take the pendulum of federal overreach and prescription – rampant in current law – and swing it back toward state and local control. Senator Fischer should be praised for her efforts to make this happen.      

Full federal funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is still the primary goal of the national education groups. Full funding means that the federal government “promised” to pay 40% of all special education costs. At this time they pay only 17% of that amount. My suggestion every year is to either provide the full funding cited in law or just get rid of the mandates. Yes, I am a rabble rouser but the reactions are always interesting.   

Other areas of emphasis that were discussed, and I would be happy to share more information about each item upon request, were the Affordable Care Act, Federal Funding: Budget & Appropriations, Child Nutrition – where I advocated information from my grandson who attends the Loup City Public Schools, the Carl D. Perkins CTE Act, and Title I.  After visiting with all five of the Nebraska delegation, it was discovered that although they may have different views on some issues, we are fortunate to have our delegates in Washington D.C to represent us. 
I’ll leave you with one thought that I found interesting and speaks volumes as it relates to the new ESU 10 mission. Noelle Ellerson, Associate Executive Director, Policy and Advocacy at the American Association of School Administrators said, “As of 2016, all of our K12 students will have been born in a different century than the teachers at the front of their classrooms.” The question that popped into my head after hearing this is that maybe we don’t have a student learning problem. Maybe instead we have an adult learning problem.

Just remember - ESU 10 is poised and ready with professional expertise!