School Choice in Nebraska Continues to be a Contested Issue

FREMONT – With the Nebraska 2018 Legislative Session steadily approaching, one of the hot issues is state education and the idea of school choice.

The Executive Director of Educate Nebraska Kate Linehan and the Executive Director of Americans for Prosperity Matt Litt have started the K-12 Education Tour, and their main focus is the idea of school choice and reform.

There are three school choice bills that will stand before the legislature this session. Those bills include a public charter school bill (LB630), a voucher bill (LB608) and the tax-credit scholarship bill (LB295). Linehan says LB630 would only allow charter schools to be authorized in districts with “failing” schools.

“The state could authorize charter schools in districts that have what the state has deemed as a ‘failing’ school. And only those districts,” said Linehan. “For example, Omaha Public Schools has a few schools that have been designated as lowest performing in the state. So a charter school could be authorized in one of those districts. But it couldn’t be authorized in Millard, because they have no lowest performing schools.”

Nebraska Department of Education recently released preliminary reading scores for the last academic year and showed proficiency levels ranging from 47% for sixth- and seventh-graders to 56% for fourth-graders. Litt says their organizations are advocating for reform with the hope to give every student their best possible future.

“Our organization and others have been working with Senator Linehan on a K-3 reading bill. It would assess where students are at in Kindergarten through third grade, and provide intense interventions to get them to proficiency,” said Litt. “We’re also looking at ways to really give parents a better sense of how their school is performing. We’re looking at what’s called A-F grading of schools. This is not to dissuade parents from sending their kids to whatever school they want to, but it’s a piece of information so they have a reasonable expectation of what the school is providing for their student.”

More information can be found on the organizations’ websites, www.educatenebraska.org and americansforprosperity.org. You can also listen to the full interview with Kate Linehan and Matt Litt on our Podcast page at 1340KHUB.com and TheBestMix1055.com.

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