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An education consumer’s legislative testimony in Nebraska

LB 972 Independent Public Schools Act February 25, 2014

My name is Deborah Andrews. My testimony today is in support of LB 972, The Independent Public Schools Act.

I found out first-hand that parents need school options for their children; Lance Izumi featured my story in his 2007 book Not as good as you think, Why the middle class needs school choice. Despite my child’s love of learning, he was failing in (Omaha, Nebraska) Westside schools at every level. I could not understand why. School administrators advised me the reason my child was having so much trouble resulted from him spending too much time on his computer at home after school.

We did not own a computer.

After speaking out about instructional practices employed by Westside schools, I received a two-page letter from a 20-member law firm accusing me of libel. The letter ended with this statement “Westside demands that you cease and desist from making any such defamatory statements in the future. Westside also demands copies of all writings of every kind in which you expressed any statements, opinions or allegations relating to Westside.” I learned why parents don’t speak up and realized efforts to improve my child’s education at Westside would be futile.

Fortunately, our financial resources allowed us to exercise school choice. My child’s fourth grade escape from Westside to an Iowa school providing effective curriculum and instruction propelled him toward a PhD in Chemical Engineering. I’ll share a quote from my son’s advisor “His dedication, brilliant mind and results to date will lead to a dissertation of outstanding quality and scientific discoveries of broad and extraordinary impact.”

In Nebraska, school choice exists only for the privileged. The poor are trapped in schools which produce ghastly results. The 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress Nebraska reveals:

23% of poor students scored at grade level or above in fourth grade reading.

I urge you to allow children of all incomes to escape learning failure and have the opportunity to reach their greatest potential in an independent public school by voting in favor of LB 972.