Two candidates are running for a seat on the Nebraska State Board of Education for District 3, which covers Northeast Nebraska.
Patti Gubbels of Norfolk will face Mike Goos of Columbus in the fall election. The seat is held by Rachel Wise of Oakland, who declined to run for another term.
Both Goos and Gubbels are focusing on a wide variety of issues in Nebraska’s education system, from funding to workforce shortages.
GUBBELS has been a member of the Norfolk Public Schools board of education for the past six years and is also the Region 16 director on the Nebraska Association of School Boards (NASB) board of directors.
“I am running for the state board of education because I am passionate about education,” Gubbels said. “I believe my experience and expertise will provide me the opportunity to make a positive impact on Nebraska’s schools, teachers, students and communities.”
Three issues she wants to address include improving the state’s severe teacher and substitute shortages.
Gubbels said she would work with the board to develop innovative policies to recruit more teachers while also creating more flexible certification rules.
Gubbels plans to advocate for policies and programs that focus on the development of civility to help students become more open-minded. She also wants to encourage policies that focus on schools’ progress and growth instead of relying solely on traditional grading.
“There have been recent attempts to pass legislation that assigns every public school a grade from A-F,” she said. “My perspective is that all schools in Nebraska have opportunities to become more effective.”
GOOS was previously a school psychologist and special education teacher for 30 years. He also has been president for Columbus Education Association and served on the Columbus Public Schools board of education for three terms.
Goos said he’s running for the state board of education to improve equitable access to high-quality education for all students.
“Nebraska has a highly commendable education system. However, gaps do exist and I think they can be remediated through policy beginning at the state level,” he said. “I have always believed that a society is only as strong as the welfare of its most vulnerable citizens, and public education is foundational in improving everyone’s lot in life.”
One of Goos’ goals is to provide equitable funding for all students and property tax relief.
To accomplish this, he said, the state needs to return to the 1990 Tax Equity and Educational Opportunities Support Act (TEEOSA) formula. TEEOSA is the current school finance formula for Nebraska public schools.
Goos also wants to reduce testing in schools. Tests and assessments are beneficial only when results can be relayed to the teacher in time to improve instruction strategies, he said. Standardized tests also are overemphasized across the state and nation.
Goos finds the most important educational issue in Nebraska to be the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACES), which include a variety of traumas experienced before the age of 18.
“The state board of education must be front and center in developing programs across the state of Nebraska to ameliorate the consequences of ACES,” he said. “Ultimately, an investment in a program to deal with ACES will lead to greater achievement outcomes in the classroom and, more importantly, better life experiences for students.”