The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) is a constitutional agency approved by Nebraska voters. The Department operates under the authority of an elected board of education. NDE is organized into teams that interact to operate the agency and carry out the duties assigned by state and federal statutes and the policy directions of the State Board of Education. The teams are organized around distinct functions and responsibilities that encompass leadership and support for Nebraska’s system of early childhood, primary, secondary and postsecondary education; direct services to clients; and internal support to the agency.
The department carries out its duties on behalf of Nebraska students in public, private, and nonpublic school systems. The staff of the department interacts with schools and institutions of higher education to develop, coordinate and improve educational programs.
Matthew L. Blomstedt, Commissioner
Dr. Matthew Blomstedt was named Commissioner of Education by the Nebraska State Board of Education on January 2, 2014.
Dr. Blomstedt led the successful development and implementation of a comprehensive state accountability system, AQuESTT, and positioned Nebraska to meet new federal requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
AQuESTT ― Accountability for a Quality Education System, Today and Tomorrow ― is Nebraska’s next-generation accountability system. AQuESTT goes beyond test scores and graduation rates to classify schools and districts under a system that provides critical information for continuous school improvement. This forward-thinking system is expected to position Nebraska to not only meet new federal guidelines but to also empower the state’s excellent schools to become even better while helping schools needing improvement. AQuESTT’s goal is to provide the data and information needed to strengthen school and district support of student learning by focusing on every student every day. AQuESTT has earned the support of Nebraska educators, state education policy leaders and the State Board of Education.
To further develop and focus on improvement efforts, Dr. Blomstedt and the State Board of Education, jointly initiated a comprehensive strategic plan to guide their student-focused work and that of the Nebraska Department of Education.
Dr. Blomstedt serves on several boards and commissions in Nebraska. He was appointed to the national Board of Directors of the Council of Chief State School Officers in December 2017.
Dr. Blomstedt is a native Nebraskan whose career focuses on local, regional and statewide education issues. Blomstedt’s experience includes education finance and organization, assessment and accountability, professional development, and the development of systems to enhance blended and distance learning opportunities across the state.
Dr. Blomstedt earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Higher Education and a Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Deborah A. Frison, Deputy Commissioner
School Improvement and Support
Dr. Frison started with the Nebraska Department of Education in 2015 as Deputy Commissioner of Education for School Improvement and Support. She is a veteran Nebraska educator with 38 years of teaching and administrative experience within the Omaha Public Schools (OPS).
Dr. Frison formerly served seven years as Principal of Burke High School (OPS). Prior to Burke she served as Principal of King Science and Technology Magnet, a 5th through 8th grade magnet school, from 2000-2008, and Morton Middle School from 1997-2000. She received her doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Supervision from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln/Omaha in 2000. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Brian Halstead, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Staff
Brian has served as an Assistant Commissioner since June 2008, and has been employed by the Department since August 1990 handling numerous areas related to the development, implementation and application of the law, education policy, and legislative liaison activities at the federal , state, and local levels. Brian is a native Nebraskan having lived in York, Ogallala, Fremont, and Lincoln.
Brian received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1982, and a Doctorate of Law from the University of Nebraska Law School in 1985.
Mark Schultz, Deputy Commissioner
Mark Schultz has 34 years of experience in providing and developing disability-related services. For the last six years, he has been the Director of Nebraska VR focusing on training and employment for individuals with disabilities. He was the Assistive Technology Partnership Director for twenty years prior to his current role.
Mark has worked to benefit Nebraskans with disabilities by fostering partnerships with public and private organizations, securing grants, developing innovative and creative services and programs to advance the mission of the agency.
Mark received his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
To lead and support the preparation of all Nebraskans for learning, earning, and living.
Partnering for the best education for all . . . for life.
Equity of access and opportunity
Honesty, integrity, and trust
Quality programs and services
Visionary and participatory leadership
A positive, can-do attitude
Accountability for results
Respect for individuals and individual differences
Equity of opportunities and outcomes
Excellence through continuous improvement