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Examining the LB 972 Independent public schools hearing

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A Nebraska education committee senator stated she wanted to make clear the committee believed poor students are capable learners. Really? The Nebraska Legislature’s Education Committee answers the failure of Nebraska’s poor students with deafening silence. Silence sends a powerful message to public schools, parents and students. Silence affirms the status quo.

Research shows poor students are as capable of learning achievement as other students (Project Synergy1994). The range in IQ is the same throughout the population (The Rising Curve 1998). However, just 23% of poor Nebraska fourth graders score proficient or above in reading (National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2013). In Nebraska, should the poor be allowed school options? How has it worked elsewhere?

A New York City (NYC) public charter school example is Success Academy Harlem 5. They co-locate (share a building) with Public School 123. Though the students’ demographics are the same, mostly poor, their achievement levels couldn’t be more disparate: 88% of Harlem 5 public charter school third graders passed New York’s math test while just 5% of Public School 123 students passed that same test. (Rotherham and Whitmire, USA Today 2/26/14)

Despite outstanding student learning outcomes produced in NYC charter schools and 50,000 children on charter wait lists, Unite Here- (international labor union) backed NYC Mayor de Blasio considers ways to roll back charter school co-locations already approved.
Unite Here is able to contribute unlimited funds under rules de Blasio helped enact as a City Councilman (De Falco and Gonen, New York Post (NYP) 10/28/13). Upset the mayor closed too few charters, union-backed NYC Public Advocate James and Council Speaker Viverito have brought a lawsuit to close more charters (Campanile, NYP 3/4/14). If successful, the actions to block charters will send poor children back to learning purgatory with no way out.

A Nebraska Education Committee senator boasted the Nebraska ACT participation rate is among the highest in the nation. Apparently, educators and legislators read from the same (union?) spin book. As I shared in the recent Junk mail/ballot column, Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) used the same spin. In its annual report for ACT scores, LPS listed instead the ACT participation rate. Participation or graduation is not a measure of student learning outcomes/achievement.

The Nebraska State Board of Education opposes LB 972. I previously examined union campaign support of many state board members, school board members and legislative education committee members: www.examiner.com/article/politics-student-learning-101 This relationship impedes student achievement. Preventing achievement in school is common payback for union campaign support. As a former elementary school principal shared with me off the record “Failure pays”. Failure provides MORE. The privileged have always had access to school choice options. The poor are trapped. As this scenario repeats around the country, unions earn the title “Poverty pimps”.

Elementary school students are no match for thugs. Unfortunately, our children’s future is controlled by union bosses locally, nationally and internationally.

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