Saturday, February 15, 2003
Bev Bennett of Roca, Neb., south of Lincoln, has been following education issues for many years. As director of the Nebraska Education Research Council (NERC) and a tireless, experienced researcher, she has a better grasp than almost anyone in the state about education legislation and what's behind what is going on today in education issues.
In light of today's $673 million state budget deficit and growing concern about the social engineering, under-achievement academically and over-politicization of our public schools, she has come up with a pretty striking idea of what to do:
Get rid of the Nebraska State Department of Education. Although K-12 education costs well over a billion dollars in Nebraska, it appears that the oversight agency this year is costing $48.2 million in staff, operations, travel and equipment for nearly 500 employees. Mrs. Bennett maintains that we can get along with them and let other, existing governmental monitoring and regulatory agencies take care of its functions the way other governmental services are handled.
Here's her take on it:
"If we are truly a 'local control' state for education, let the schools handle their own affairs. The constitutional board elected by the people, has the oversight of Nebraska schools, not the corporate, State of Nebraska.
"Each school district is 'connected' to a 'federal' ESU (Educational Service Unit); and each district has their own level of bureaucracy. They are capable of bringing in the 'federal' monies by themselves without the Federal (state) department.
"The main purpose of the corporate, Nebraska Deptartment of Education (namely Washington DC operating within corporate State of Nebraska) is to 'suck' in the local schools with the offers of money -- the ESU's included.
"As one has followed this gradual change from local funding of schools to state funding, it is evident the state has made a mess of things as usual. One has only to follow the individuals who were hired to 'develop' the funding formula and you see who gets the most benefit from the 'formula' . . . and it's not the small schools.
"If the Deptartment of Education were eliminated, look at the savings to the people! See the department's budget information on the Nebraska Department of Education website and that would just be the start of the savings: each sub-unit, including each school district, would save untold monies as a result.
"If you know anything about the CAFR (Comprehensive Annual Financial Report) then you know Nebraska has plenty of money in reserve and has no need to increase taxes. If Nebraska officials were truthful and interested in preserving our freedoms and liberty, they would cut back, just as the people have had to cut back in order to survive."
To contact Bev Bennett, director of the NERC: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bev Bennett, Director
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