The Nebraska state board has picked Matthew Blomstedt to be the state’s next K-12 superintendent, although the Omaha World Herald reported Dec. 12 that Blomstedt needs to officially accept the position and then negotiate a contract with the board before his selection is a done deal.
Blomstedt has been serving as the executive director of the Nebraska Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council. The 17 service units act as intermediaries between individual school districts and state government. The coordinating council is charged with assuring that the service units provide the “most cost-effective services” for students and teachers, and making sure statewide initiatives are implemented smoothly. They’re comparable to the Education Service Centers in Texas.
That’s only one of Blomstedt’s links to education in Nebraska. He’s also led the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association, served as a researcher for the state legislature’s education committee (the Nebraska legislature is unicameral), and worked on the Nebraska School Finance Review Committee. He’s replacing Roger Breed, who stepped away from the superintendent’s post last June.
I’ve contacted Blomstedt for an interview and haven’t heard back, but he told the World Herald that one of his first big tasks would be to look at the possibility of a new accountability system for the state. Nebraska is one of four states not to have adopted the Common Core State Standards, and while Blomstedt said he’s not sure the standards are right for the state, he also said Nebraska “should align its standards with them because the education industry is developing content including textbooks that follows those standards,” as the Lincoln Journal Star characterized his remarks.
By law, the state board is required to update its standards in various content areas every five years, according to a fixed schedule. The language arts standards are up for review in 2014, while the math standards are up in 2015.
Blomstedt did say he isn’t necessarily inclined to institute a dramatic and rapid overhaul in the state’s public schools: “If we’re really going to make changes in education, we’re going to have to do it in an incremental fashion and get significant buy-in.”
A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.