Thursday, August 03, 2006
TIME FOR AN EXODUS FROM NEBRASKA SCHOOLS?
Here's the understatement of the year: Nebraska State Schools Superintendent Doug Christensen is quoted in the morning World-Herald as saying the State Ed Department, which he runs, should have started studying why low-income, minority schoolchildren don't do as well in school as white, middle-class kids, a long time ago.
Christensen told a conference room full of Nebraska school administrators in Kearney that the department is going to study "equity of educational opportunities" in larger, urban school districts, as well as in rural Nebraska.
Talk about being a day late and a dollar short: the demographical achievement gap is decades-old in Nebraska. Other states have been wrangling for many years over how to define "equity" and tangled up in court cases that don't do kids any good; now Nebraska is starting down that same sad, strange path.
Meanwhile, the "solution," LB 1024 from last legislative session, has nothing in it whatsoever that will address the reasons WHY poor kids don't do as well. It just seeks more money and a fancier way of shifting it around among the educrats.
The stupidity of the massive "learning community" and three-way split along racial lines of the Omaha Public Schools that bill is foisting on Nebraska are clear and convincing proof that the State Board of Education and the State Education Department are ineffective in shaping public policy. Rather than our schools, they're the ones that need restructuring and reorganization, bigtime.
Meanwhile, the proposal to "study" the needs of rural schoolchildren would be funny if it weren't so sad. Nebraska's Class I country schools were basically murdered by another bad bill, LB 126, and recent court decisions that could have been prevented with wise public policy decisionmaking long ago by our state educrats. It is forcing school consolidation and loss of local control, in stark contrast to what the research shows from all over the country, that smaller, more personal schools are where kids flourish.
Geez Louise. It's embarrassing to be making so many mistakes that we already know from other states don't work, and being so far behind the times with no semblance of school choice, tuition tax credits for poor kids, or other neat innovations going on elsewhere.
Here's a juicy interview with an author and advocate, Bruce Shortt, who has gained national prominence for his call to parents to vacate public schools because of the tragic futility of trying to reform such a complicated, self-serving, unaccountable, high-spending system:
I know it's a shocking concept to give up on public education . . . but the guy makes a lot of sense.
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