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Early childhood education bill gains unanimous initial approval

Early childhood education bill gains unanimous initial approval
Senator Stinner speaking on L.B. 98 (photo courtesy NET)

Lawmakers have given  first-round approval March 14 to a bill meant to address a shortage of qualified early childhood education teachers in rural Nebraska.

As introduced by Sen. John Stinner of Gering, LB803 would require that school districts offer full-day kindergarten programs beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

It also would repeal a requirement that all teachers and administrators in prekindergarten programs hold a valid certificate or permit. Instead, the state Department of Education would be granted authority over teacher and administrator qualifications for those programs.

Stinner said all early childhood education programs still would need to meet the board’s standards under its rules and regulations.

Senator Steve Erdman of Bayard supported the bill, saying the state has a shortage of teachers throughout the state but especially in the rural counties in the  early childhood education area.

As a member of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute’s early childhood workforce commission, Stinner said, he understands the need for quality in Nebraska’s prekindergarten programs, but he also sees the lack of certified teachers for those programs, particularly in rural areas.

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