Heineman announces education partnership


August 15th, 2011

Omaha, NE – As part of Nebraska’s P-16 initiative to help improve education throughout the state, Governor Dave Heineman is reaching out to educators for a helping hand.

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Joined by education leaders throughout the state of Nebraska, Heineman announced the creation of the Nebraska Virtual Partnership Friday morning. Its top priority is to create educational opportunities throughout the state.

“I’m pleased to announce that we are making progress in that area,” stated Heineman. “Today we are taking a significant step forward for virtual education here in Nebraska.”

That step would entail the creation of an online virtual high school for students across the state, and according to Heineman, it’s well-needed. Budget cuts and a strained economy have left schools in rural areas without much of the education opportunities available in larger cities – that can range from basic Spanish classes to advanced placement classes.

Heineman announced a new partnership to expand virtual education across the state Friday. (Photo courtesy State of Nebraska)

“In rural Nebraska, it can be difficult to hire foreign language, math and science teachers…so a virtual school would allow rural schools and rural communities the opportunity to survive,” said Heineman.

But the program isn’t only relevant for areas with smaller populations, Heineman stressed the program can also be useful for students in bigger cities like Omaha and Lincoln. And that’s important. Particularly since technology has been playing an integral role in the lives of high schoolers.

“In urban areas, a virtual high school presents the opportunity for students to be learning in school computer labs and community labs from 3:30 to 8:30 PM, instead of on the streets and potentially engaged in drug and gang activities,” said Heineman. “Additionally, today’s students want to learn online at their convenience and at their pace. That means education must change to keep pace with an ever-changing technological environment.”

The Nebraska Virtual Partnership was formally established Friday. It included commitments by the Department of Education, the Educational Service Unit Coordinating Council, the University of Nebraska, and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications.

University of Nebraska president J.B. Miliken saud UNL will begin the process by launching an on-line program called NU Virtual Scholars. Heineman said the program “will give the opportunity for a new group of high schools and their students to become familiar with online high school curriculum and learning.”

The University of Nebraska has offered distance education for high school students for over 80 years through UNL’s Independent Study High School. The program would now be available free to 50 students this upcoming school year. Districts must apply to have their students participate. The Independent Study High School would open its entire catalog of more than 100 courses – including core, AP, and elective courses.

The partnership is also working to establish the Nebraska Virtual Library: a program proposed by NET to provide an online multi-media library of resources to high school students and teachers across the state.

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