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A Commitment to Education

By Governor Dave Heineman

I want to focus this week on several proposals aimed at strengthening education in Nebraska. These proposals are focused on creating new opportunities for students and accelerating Nebraska’s potential to attract research and development projects.

I have recommended directing $8.5 million to the development of a virtual high school for Nebraska students. While the concept is still being developed, this would be a joint effort of the Nebraska Department of Education, the University of Nebraska and the Nebraska P-16 Initiative.

A rigorous online curriculum would open up new opportunities for students in rural Nebraska and urban areas alike.  A virtual high school would allow Nebraska high school students to take courses ranging from basic math and science classes to more advanced subjects. It would provide flexibility to allow students to complete course work on their timetable in the evenings or during weekends and summer months. That flexibility would help students pursue dual enrollment options for college credit.

Creating a virtual high school is a way to expand learning beyond the traditional school day and school year. It presents an opportunity to extend learning beyond the classroom walls and reach students in new ways.

Another investment I have proposed is a one-time investment of $25 million to accelerate the initial development of the University of Nebraska’s Innovation Campus in Lincoln.

The University of Nebraska is a critical component to our economic future. With the move to the Big Ten, the University of Nebraska has an outstanding opportunity to significantly increase student enrollment, expand its rapidly growing research base and develop public-private partnerships at Innovation Campus that will increase job opportunities for Nebraskans. It is an investment needed now, not five years from now.

Together, the proposals for a virtual high school and an initial infusion of funding for Innovation Campus represent a more than $33 million investment to strengthen Nebraska’s educational future. Additionally, I have proposed partnering with businesses to help create new internships for students at Nebraska's two and four-year colleges.

Education success and economic success are linked. We are focused on creating higher paying jobs and developing a more highly educated workforce. We want our graduates and young professionals to be prepared for high-quality, high-skill jobs with dynamic companies doing business in Nebraska.

Fulfilling that vision will require a more focused effort on student and school achievement. While funding is a critical element, it can never replace the value of good teachers working together with active and engaged parents. That is the formula for academic success for every student.

Education is a priority for me and it is an investment that will pay dividends for individuals, families and communities across our state.