Friday, March 04, 2005


Utah may become the first state to opt out of the No Child Left Behind Act, and spurn $116 million in federal aid. Why? Because Utah is fed up with the unconstitutional federal control of education. The governor is calling a special legislative session on it, and furious negotiations with the feds are under way.

Holy Tenth Amendment! I love it. It reminds me of the bodacious move by Alabama a few years ago, led by former Gov. Fob James, to thumb its nose at federal bribes that sought to institute Goals 2000 federal meddling in local schools. Then it was called “Goals 2000.” Now it’s called “NCLB.”

Does Nebraska have lawmakers with the moxie to get this done? Maybe. I was delighted to see that Nebraska State Sen. Pam Redfield of southwest Omaha served on a bipartisan task force about NCLB for the National Council of State Legislatures (
www.ncsl.org). It concluded last month that the feds were going to have to lighten up on the unfunded mandates, or more states were going to feel forced to defy federal dictates and pull out.

Who got the pro-local control ball rolling in Utah? A mother, of course! She is Rep. Margaret Dayton, a 55-year-old Republican and mother of 12 who has led the rebellion. (Mother of 12 = ‘way too tough, even for the feds.)

And what’s Utah’s beef? It sounds familiar: Utah has a 20-point achievement gap between white and Hispanic students in reading and math, according to the latest tests by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. The feds will whap them for that if it isn’t closed real quick.

Utah just doesn’t think it’s fair that federal policies have brought on all this immigration, and federal policies are now punishing local schools for trying to deal with the English Language Learners that immigration policy has foisted on them. They’d like to do the most important task of education – assessment – based on local standards, not Uncle Sam’s. Utah has traditionally had among the nation’s highest test scores and lowest costs per pupil, but NCLB is changing that as it standardizes and nationalizes education from coast to coast.

Sounds familiar, too. Are you watching, Nebraska? Monkey see, monkey do? As someone once said about Utah, “This is the place.” And now, “That’s the way.”



It’s always great to find organizations that are turning kids on to reading. There’s a very fun event to raise money for book purchases and programming by Reach Out and Read – Midlands planned Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Champions Run, 13500 Eagle Run Drive in west Omaha. Kids and parents will get breakfast and interactive story stations about great kids’ books, with readings by the “Cat in the Hat,” Miss Nebraska and TV great Dave Webber, along with other surprises. Tickets for the fund-raiser are steep, but it’s a good cause: $25 for kids, $10 for adults, or $75 per family. Donations are being accepted at ROR-Midlands, 623 N. 164th Circle, Omaha, NE 68118; tell ‘em Go Big Ed sent you.



The American Family Association (
www.afa.net) has sent out a warning that 61,000 elementary schools are going to be receiving a free “We Are Family” video on March 11 that is from a pro-homosexual organization.

The AFA contends that the teacher’s guide to this video “openly promoted homosexuality as a normative lifestyle” and “aggressively normalized same-gender attraction and same-sex marriage.” On the recommended reading list were two pro-gay kiddie books, “Heather Has Two Mommies” and “Daddy’s Roommate.” The latter includes an illustration of two men in bed together.

The AFA recommends that parents and taxpayers call the local school and ask if this video is going to be shown to kids, if homosexuality will be addressed, and if the teacher’s guide is going to be used. If so, ask to sit in, and invite other parents to join you. Any problems? Email the AFA at

Also note that the AFA offers a 28-minute video, “It’s Not Gay,” with input from ex-homosexuals. They explain that the gay lifestyle is negative and is being overcome every day in this country. You could suggest the school show that video to kids, in the interest of fairness and equal time, if they show “We Are Family.” It’s available for $15 through

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