Friday, April 14, 2006


We can’t close the book on this session of the Nebraska Unicameral without thanking the senators for a good thing they accomplished for K-12 education.

They beat back the push to mandate all-day kindergarten statewide by nixing LB 228. The educrats desperately wanted it, to further standardize and force conformity on K-12 education in this state. They also wanted to get additional “income stream,” infrastructure and jobs into the public schools. And they wanted to protect their “turf” against any enrollment inroads by homeschooling and private schools, which generally don’t offer all-day k, seen as a major convenience and cost-saver for working parents.

All-day k is a “loss leader” for public schools; it draws in enrollment which tends to stay there. There’s something creepy about a unit of government conducting itself in that way – strategizing to get revenue rather than doing what’s best for the people it serves, in this case, little kids.

An all-day program for 5-year-olds technically is “unprofitable” for both the seller and the customer – the schools and the pupils. When you more than double their time in school, you don’t more than double their learning – in fact, you probably instill bad habits and set them back, since by taking kindergartners’ time doing what they don’t need to be doing, enrolled in a structured program at school, you take away time in which they could have done what they needed to be doing – which is basically living life in playful freedom at home half the day.

But for financial reasons, rather than educational, the educrats lust after all-day k. How come? Because most parents will choose “free” all-day k over having the child in half-day in kindergarten, and half-day in paid day-care or at home. Most parents will choose a freebie over something they have to pay for or that takes more of their time, even though it won’t necessarily help and might even harm their kids over the long run.

Educationally speaking, there’s no evidence all-day k is anything but “free” day care at taxpayer expense, and in fact it may be harmful in the long run to children’s learning power, especially little boys, who prosper more at age 5 in the freedom and order of their own homes with a one-on-one adult-child “staff ratio” – mom-and-child.

We all know that starting too early for children is detrimental to their long-term development, in everything from contact football to sexual behavior. It’s the same thing with formal schooling. All-day day-care and all-day k have been shown to damage children’s overall attitude about school, their self-discipline, and even their attachment to and respect for their parents.

Hats off to State Sen. Pam Redfield of southwest Omaha, among others, for showing the education bureaucracy that if you can’t prove something is a good use of tax dollars that will benefit and serve people, you shouldn’t try to push it through.

One other education-related vote gets a big thumb’s down, however: LB 239, which allows the children of illegal aliens who live in Nebraska to pay in-state tuition in Nebraska public colleges and universities. So they step in line in front of low-income, longtime citizens once again:

n They already get more expensive services in “free” public schools than the children of bona fide citizens, because they don’t speak English, and that dumbs down and dilutes the space and services available for other children, or at least costs us all an arm and leg more.

n They take a college classroom seat from the children of bona fide, taxpaying citizens, most of whom had parents and grandparents who served our country in the military and so forth, who score a 19 on the ACT and can’t get in to the University of Nebraska, but if the child of someone who is flagrantly breaking our immigration laws can score a 20, they’re “in” and the citizen’s child is “out.” The vast majority of the bona fide citizens who are aced out are low-income and minority Americans, too. So much for being law-abiding.

n And on top of that, the illegal’s child gets a whopping subsidy from Nebraska taxpayers to attend college, while the child of a bona fide, taxpaying Kansas or Iowa citizen does not: the illegal alien’s child will pay $4,530 in tuition while the legal citizen’s child, who’s from another state, has to pay $13,440. Why don’t we just hand over a CHECK to the illegal?!?

It’s just unbelievable that this bill passed. But oh, well. At least it makes for great headlines: “ALIENS TAKING CLASSROOM SEATS AND EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FROM AMERICANS!!!” Yeah, well, you’d have to be from MARS to think this bill is fair.

Last, but certainly not least, we have the pageantry of LB 1024, the biggest egg in our legislative Easter basket, and according to most accounts, a rotten one.

What have we hatched? What do “peeps” really think of it? Are Sen. Ron Raikes and Sen. Ernie Chambers keen jelly beans – or do they have major egg on their faces? What do the “chocolate people” think? Will it make the education bureaucracy, which is already hard-boiled, even more impervious to attempts at local control? Will it stink up Gov. Heineman’s chances to be governor, since he signed it? We’ll take a hard look at all its aspects next week.

‘Til then, Happy Easter and Happy Passover, and here’s a wish from our happy little half-day kindergartner, Maddy:

(crayon drawing of a bunny, Easter basket and eggs available only on the GoBigEd email)

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