Wednesday, February 15, 2006


A mere 24% of the voters in the Lincoln Public Schools came to the polls Tuesday to vote by a 63% to 37% margin to plunge the state’s second-largest district into $250 million more debt with a range of school building and remodeling projects.

The victory was expected, after a $116,000 campaign by pro-bond forces, overwhelming a $3,000 effort by opposition led by former LPS board member Peter Katt. The pro-bond vote reportedly was aided by the exercise of a new state law that allows 17-year-olds to vote, according to the Lincoln Journal-Star, with more than 750 of them registered at school days before the vote.

Meanwhile, a few miles west of Sioux City, more than three-fourths of eligible voters showed up Tuesday to defeat a $10 million bond issue for a new secondary school by a narrow margin, 633 for and 659 against. Voter turnout was 78.5%. It was the third time the district had attempted to get the new school indebtedness through.

A local citizens’ group,
www.abcscommittee.org, retained Iowa consultant Paul Dorr to help get the facts and figures out to make the case for a less costly solution for the district. Dorr, of Ocheyedan in northwest Iowa, has helped close to 30 such committees turn aside big-dollar school bond issues and tax-lid overrides in recent years.

Dorr said, "It remains heartening to see the common sense people of Nebraska respond to authoritative information and turn out in large numbers to protect their small town, their school and their children from the hucksters in the financial realm, architects and local media who routinely prey on such communities and their taxpayers."

A Shot in the Arm
For Math and Science Teachers

Wish this were the Nebraska Legislature, but noooo. It’s the Idaho Legislature that’s considering authorizing “pay differentials” for teachers of math and science. It was voted out of the Senate Education Committee by a 7-2 margin, with only 2 Democrats opposed, according to education activist and retired economics professor John Wenders,

Wenders said it’s a very modest start, just a 3.75% increase, or $1,125 on a $30,000 salary. Total cost: $2.8 million.

What a good idea: pay a little more to teachers whose knowledge and skills are scarcer, and whose alternative job opportunities are much vaster than most of today’s teaching corps. What’s keeping them back? The teachers’ own union, of course. They say it would cause “discord” among teachers if some got more money than others.

Wenders reports, “The teachers’ union will do anything to stop the whole idea of teacher pay differentials based any factors other than accumulated birthdays and seat-time in education courses. But the IEA is in a real political bind on this one. On the one hand, it constantly whines for more money, but when some incentives that would improve education come with the money, they are against it. This exposes the IEA's single-minded agenda: more money, period. Anything that smacks of merit will be bitterly opposed.”

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