Saturday, February 01, 2003


State Sen. Chip Maxwell of Omaha bought a 7 1/2-inch by 15-inch ad on Page 7A of The Saturday World-Herald seeking input on his idea of transferring authority and finance for all the K-12 public schools in the State of Nebraska away from local control and locally-elected school boards, and to state government.

This would be the worst possible move, and in the coming days, I'll file a report to that effect based on what has happened in other locations with a similar scheme.

Sen. Maxwell raises good points, such as the fact that school enrollment in Nebraska has been about the same over the last 20 years, but total spending tripled and put enormous pressure on politicians and bureaucrats to keep raising property, sales and income taxes.

His idea is to take the huge pile of money now being divvied up in the form of state tax aid to public schools, and attach it to each student -- the sum of $6,000 apiece -- so that the funding is based on the student, not on the spending choices of the local district that student attends. Maxwell contends that this would "provide a significant reward for consolidation of schools" and suggests that it would provide "a billion dollars of true property-tax relief" and "stop the runaway, budget-busting growth of K-12 spending."

He also calls for more "alternative education" of "disruptive" students, subsidized by the state.

Bottom line: Sen. Maxwell is a good guy. But . . . right problem, wrong solution.

Stay tuned for why.

And if you already know you oppose a state takeover of our schools, please contact him at:

State Sen. Chip Maxwell
State Capitol
Lincoln, NE 68509-4604

(402) 471-2723


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