Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Ouch, ouch, ouch. Put a black “L” next to the red “N” on our foreheads. We look like losers today.

According to data posted at www.schoolmatters.com, when you compare Nebraska to six surrounding states, we come out last or second to last in many important measurements of academic quality, and first in several categories that have a big impact on increasing school spending.

Wyoming wasn’t included in the data index, but Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, South Dakota and Minnesota were, and compared to them, Nebraska came in:

-- 7th out of the 7 in 4th grade reading proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP)

-- 6th in 4th grade math, 8th grade reading, and 8th grade math on the NAEP

-- 6th in the average SAT score (1,145)

-- 3rd in the average ACT score (21.7 on a 0-36 scale)

-- 1st in operating expenditures per pupil ($7,741)

-- 1st in general administration expenditures per pupil ($292)

-- 1st in lowest class size (13.6 students per teacher)

-- 1st in lowest ratio of total staff to students (1:7)

-- 1st in students labeled as having learning disabilities (15.8%)

It should be pointed out that the ACT score at least isn’t worst, and also that the index does not reveal what percentage of students were “held out” of the NAEP testing because of learning disabilities or other reasons. The “exclusion rate” is a key figure that should have been included for a complete comparison. But still, Nebraska looks pretty bad.

It’s puzzling, since we have decent median household income ($42,696, ranking 4th out of these 7 states), pretty good parental educational attainment (23.8% of adults have bachelor’s degrees, also 4th among the states), and relatively few single-parent households (8.4%, or 5th), a key correlate of learning challenges including ADHD diagnosis.

So how come we’re first among our neighbors in the percentage labeled as “learning disabled”? Could it be all those farm chemicals in the water?

Nooooo. It’s directly related to those poor reading scores. Nebraska’s kids aren’t BORN learning-disabled. They are MADE that way, by improper reading instruction in the early grades, since the powers that be in Nebraska still don’t get it and still don’t teach reading with phonics.

So the kids can’t read, and are misdiagnosed as “reading disabled,” instead of being called what they really are, which is “instructionally disabled.”

Consequently, Nebraska’s schools drain more and more Title I federal funding to try to remediate what they caused, which is why Nebraska ranks second only to South Dakota with its Indian reservations in federal aid to education.

And we look like rumdums and give hemorrhoids to the people in charge of trying to attract new employers to this state, because our education system doesn’t look so good. Wah. Oh, wah-ellllll.



Barbara Baier, an “out” lesbian activist raising a 5-year-old son with a female “partner,” finished first in her subdistrict of the primary race for a seat on the state’s second-largest school district, the Lincoln Public Schools. Clearly defining herself as an opponent of traditional family structures and Christian morals and principles, she was aided by a $1,500 donation from the Nebraska State Education Association and $9,357 in-kind from the Nebraska Democratic Party, according to the Lincoln Journal-Star.



A former teachers’ union president has been charged with stealing nearly $100,000 from the Lawrence (Kan.) Education Association. Wayne Kruse, a sixth-grade teacher who headed the union from 1999 to 2005, was charged in March with two counts of forgery and one count of theft of more than $25,000, according to the teachers’ union watchdog, www.eiaonline.org



According to the Lincoln Journal-Star, a former member of Arnold Elementary School's parent-teacher organization was arraigned in March, accused of stealing $4,300 from the group. Last week, the felony charges against Rebecca Stalsberg, 35, were dismissed on the condition that she makes restitution to the school and completes a pretrial diversion program, according to court documents.



The Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday that a black teacher is charged with assault after an incident at a neighboring school involving a white teacher. According to a police report, the white teacher ordered the black teacher’s daughter and another black student to leave a hallway where they weren’t supposed to be, but ignored a white girl nearby.

The black teacher’s daughter got upset and went to the school counselor, who called the mother. According to the news story, she arrived “angry and unannounced” in the white teacher’s classroom.

The story reported: “Ms. Oliver was sitting at her desk when Ms. Baines walked into the room and grabbed her by the hair. She hit Ms. Oliver in the face repeatedly with her fist and dragged her across the floor as the class of seventh-graders watched. Ms. Baines also kicked Ms. Oliver several times in the side while she was on the floor.”

Reportedly, racial relations aren’t the best at that school, and African-American teachers and students were quoted in the story as saying that black kids don’t always get the breaks, grades and attention that the white kids do there.

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