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Two Visions for education in Nebraska

Education decisions made today create our future
Education decisions made today create our future
Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Under declaration of emergency, the Nebraska Legislature enacted LB 1103 to develop a common statewide vision for education in Nebraska. The Legislature’s Education Committee sought public feedback June 30, 2014 with the survey, Starting Point- A Vision for Nebraska’s Education, as follows:

  • Vision: Every Nebraskan educated for success
  • Mission: Equip Nebraskans to realize maximum potential in all aspects of life.
  • Goals: 1. Provide programs and courses that inspire and prepare Nebraskans for success in learning, work and life.2. Establish high expectations for all educators and provide support and resources to create positive, safe and successful learning environments.3. Develop systems of support that build collaborative partnerships among the entire educational community including individuals, families, businesses and organizations.

The survey’s preliminary Vision, Mission and Goals are not actionable and demonstrate how political payback trumps student learning and achievement every time.

An earlier bill, Nebraska LB 972 - Adopt the Independent Public Schools Act, is an example of a bill which focused on, and supported, student learning and achievement by expanding school choice to Nebraska. Unfortunately, LB 972 was indefinitely postponed on April 17, 2014. Nebraska schools need action taken on behalf of student learning outcomes and achievement: valid, measurable, research-based, immediate and corrective.

Today, the largest union in the United States is the National Education Association. Unionized government workers at the federal, state and local level outnumber those in the private sector. (Associated Press, Boston Herald 7/4/14) Decades of student reading and math failure are testimonial to political, bureaucratic and ideological partnering with unions.

Nebraska fourth grade students scoring at the proficient level (grade level) or above on the National Assessment for Educational Progress 2013:

  • Reading 37 %
  • Math 45 %

In ten years, Lincoln’s poverty rate has increased 48%; in just seven years, homelessness increased 41%. (Lincoln Vital Signs 2014)

Unions do not contribute to successful long-range planning of their host institution. Union parasitic practices are more smash and grab. A quick look at the union-bastion city of Detroit paints a stark picture of reality in the United States. As the Detroit Water Department announced plans to shut off water to 150,000 delinquent users, half its customers, Detroit activists have appealed to the United Nations for clean water under the UN member states human rights obligations. (Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press 6/26/14)

Meanwhile, the Detroit City Council approved a water rate increase of over $5 per month and the Michigan legislature approved spending $195 million to cover a shortfall in the bankrupt city’s pension obligations. (Wall Street Journal 6/4/14)

Our national failure to effectively teach reading limits the majority of Americans’ access to information. Absent the knowledge base requisite to rational thinking, these dependent adults respond as a group to emotions and feelings. (Credentialed to Destroy, Robin S. Eubanks 2013)

An education consumer’s statewide vision for Nebraska education might include:

  • Teach every child to read within a few months of beginning phonics, and only phonics, reading instruction.
  • Teach every child a sound foundation in mathematics using time-honored, proven methods.
  • Allow continuous progress and/or radical acceleration of mastered, rigorous course content.
  • Require all school decisions be driven by valid, measured, effects on student learning and achievement.
  • Through cost/benefit analysis of each line item, eliminate bureaucratic self-interest initiatives in every form.

If opposition emerges to the education consumer visions, provide parents 90% of the funding which would have gone to the school. I propose Nebraska Education Scholarships (NES) which would allow parents to determine the vision for their child’s education.

We are failing our children. It is time for action, lest we become Detroit on the prairie.

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