Thomas C. Sorensen Seminar: Rural and Urban Education Policy (March)


At each level of government, education policymaking occupies more time and more resources than virtually any other policy area. It is for this reason that the historical, social, political, and economic contexts that influence education policy and which, in turn, are influenced by the nature and quality of a nation’s educational system must be understood in the larger context of the public policy process. This seminar addressed all phases of the policymaking cycle, including problem identification, policy development, policy analysis, political decision-making, policy implementation, and policy evaluation through applied analyses of contemporary education policies and policy proposals to help decision-makers improve education policy.

Seminar leaders:
Ardyce Bohlke is a former Nebraska state senator for District #33 (which encompasses all of Adams County and a portion of Hall County in central Nebraska). She was first appointed by Governor Ben Nelson in 1991 and was reelected in 1992 and again in 1996. Senator Bohlke has served as Senate Education Committee chair since 1994. She is a former member of the Hastings Board of Education, 1980-1988, where she served as president from 1984 to 1987. Her awards of recognition include the 1999 Distinguished Service Award from the Nebraska Educational Service Units, the 1999 Nebraska State Education Association Friend of Education Award, the 1998-1999 Education Commission of the State's Chairman’s Award, and Nebraska Schoolmasters 2000 Distinguished Service Award. Senator Bohlke has a B.S. in education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Doug Christensen has served as commissioner of education for the State of Nebraska, making him the chief executive officer of the Nebraska State Board of Education since 1994. Prior to becoming the commissioner of education, Dr. Christensen served as superintendent of schools in North Platte (Nebraska), Colby (Kansas), and Bloomfield (Nebraska). In addition, he has been an instructor in secondary education at the University of Nebraska­-Lincoln. Dr. Christensen is the author of numerous publications in the fields of policy, leadership standards for learning, school improvement, and accountability. Dr. Christensen received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Education from the University of Nebraska–­Lincoln.

Jody Isernhagen is an associate professor of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She received an M.A. in curriculum and instruction and Ed.D. in administration, curriculum, and instruction from Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Dr. Isernhagen is the co-author of three books and numerous articles on school leadership and improving schools. Recent publications have appeared in the Journal for School Improvement, T.H.E. Journal, Technology Horizons in Education, and The Rural School. Dr. Isernhagen was the state representative of the U.S. Department of Education National School Design Conference. She was also the convener of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration. In 1997, she received both The University Council for Educational Administration Excellence in Education Award and the Nebraska Council of School Administrators Distinguished Service Award.