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Students prevail where legislature failed

Students prevail
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

California judge Rolf Treu ruled students have a fundamental right to equal education. Siding with nine public school students from five districts, the Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge struck down tenure and other job protections for teachers. (Linda Deutsch, Associated Press 6/10/14)

The children brought the suit after being stuck with teachers who let classrooms get out of control, were not prepared for class and verbally abused students. As one student put it, “I’m glad that with the support of my parents I was able to stand up for my right to a great education.” Her statement highlights the failed California legislative attempts to improve teacher quality in the classroom.

How did we get to this place? Where adults fail to protect children? Today’s decision is a stark testimonial as to how we have abdicated our responsibility to prepare the next generation. Every two years the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP) reveals that our children are not being taught the basic skills of reading and math: just 37% of Nebraska fourth grade students scored at the proficient level (grade level or above) in reading, 45% in math (NAEP 2013).

Student learning failure is condoned by our legislature, school boards and state board of education. Silence affirms the status quo. The Nebraska legislature fails, time and again, to even offer poor children school choice. How we treat poor and minority school children is not unlike the current dumping of unaccompanied illegal immigrant children in cities across the southwest. Just 16% of Nebraska Black fourth grade students and 23% of poor students score proficient or above in reading. What are they to do? Where will they go?

Adults charged with overseeing education in our great state should kick selfish interests and campaign cash to the curb and focus on what is best for children. Students should not have to sue the state in order to be provided the opportunity to learn. Adults should be just as concerned as to how children will support themselves once they age out of school. Decades of student learning failure alert us to this pending disaster. The silence surrounding reading and math failure is deafening, but it sure matters to this country, students and their parents.

It is a sad day when children have to go to court on behalf of their education.