Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Regarding Charters, the choice is NO in Nebraska
By:  Anonymous Nebraska Citizen!

There have been several efforts to legalize charters in Nebraska. Although these efforts have overwhelming failed, there is a new resurgence in the state as the legislative session convenes for the 2016 session.

Why are public schools successful in Nebraska? Nebraska Statute 79-234 states that Open Enrollment allows parents to choose any traditional public school for their child, regardless of location. Oftentimes transportation may be included if a child chooses to attend a public school not in their attendance area. Due to this option, and a tradition of strong community support for Nebraska public schools, there has been a history and a future of extremely successful Nebraska Public Schools and School Districts. 

Unfortunately, there is a new non-profit group, “Educate Nebraska”, looking to compromise the state of Public Schools in Nebraska. This group began appearing in newspapers and local media in early January. In addition to their media appearances, they have launched a flashy new website. Educate Nebraska was started by their current executive director Katie Linehan. Linehan has ties to Success Academy Charter School in Harlem. This should raise a warning  flag. Why would Linehan be so interested in Nebraska schools when a majority of her teaching career was done at a charter school in New York? Does this out of state background in education make her a viable source to influence drastic decisions regarding public schools in Nebraska? It’s comparable to someone with a teaching background in Vermont lobbying for drastic changes to education policy in Arizona…it doesn’t add up. 

One of my greatest concerns about “Educate Nebraska” is the lack of transparency in regards to funding. While reviewing the remaining staff of “Educate Nebraska”, there are several ties to TFA. Perhaps that could be a clue. It's interesting that a nonprofit group, which did not exist a month or so ago, has an extremely flashy website, hired staff and advisors, has held rallies, released communications, met with the pro charter Governor of Nebraska, and is able to lobby legislation, without any mention of donors. There have been several attempts to inquire about the funding of this group via social media and direct email, but the public has still not been provided specific answers.

Nebraska has weathered charter efforts in the past, and will continue to do so. It is the interest of the state. Educate Nebraska, and similar organizations popping up throughout the U.S. should be kept on the radar, but I feel the best interest of the children will be considered, and traditional public schools will prevail and adapt, re-energize, and continue to be successful and the best choices for ALL children in the U.S.    


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