The legislature is beginning to kick into full swing. We spent most of this week debating changes to the rules. On Wednesday, I was pleased to address the Independent Insurance Agents of Nebraska during an event at the Governor’s mansion.
I have heard from a few constituents regarding a couple bills in the legislature that deal with the privatization of education in Nebraska. There are bills in the legislature that create independent public schools, school voucher programs, and additional school accountability.
All these bills have been referred to the Education Committee, of which I am not a member. At this time I am not sure which bills will advance to the full legislature for debate. I have many questions regarding voucher programs for public education and the creation of charter schools in Nebraska.
As we face a budget constraint, I also am waiting to see the fiscal impact that the privatization of school, vouchers, and charter schools. Like many other institutions, public schools are on a tight budget, and I am not sure this is the right time for the state to be diverting state resources to new programs.
My two daughters attended parochial school through their elementary years. They attended public high schools following elementary school before attending private colleges, so I have experience with both institutes of learning. My wife and I are pleased with all their years of education. I struggle with this issue a lot, because I truly believe in the value of a Christian based education and see how vouchers can be a part of making that possible for families. At the same time, I also know that my wife and I made a very conscientious decision to send our children to a parochial school fully knowing that it would be a sacrifice within our family to be able to afford it. Yes, it was going to cost us money to both pay taxes towards the public schools and the tuition for the parochial school, but that was a decision we made because we thought it was worth the investment.
It is my belief that since the State of Nebraska requires all children to attend school, it is our obligation to ensure that public schools are adequately funded to provide a good, quality education. I believe that public schools across the state are above average in comparison to other states. Many parents have the option of sending their children to private school now, it is just not subsidized by the government. As these education bills advance out of committee, I will keep an open mind on how to advance these bills while expressing my concerns to the legislative body.
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