A concerned citizen’s attempt to obtain curriculum information and provide information removes the mask of local control.
Lincoln Public Schools
A citizen contacted Lincoln Public Schools (LPS) with specific curriculum questions. At issue was how behavior assessments would be conducted and remedied. After a week or so, a meeting was set up with LPS. During that meeting, another’s family privacy was violated, the citizen’s motives were questioned and the citizen was instructed to not take curriculum concerns to the state board before discussing them with LPS. The meeting ended, but the original questions about curriculum posed by the citizen were not addressed.
Lincoln Public Schools board
The citizen testified at the next LPS board meeting to expose the privacy violation as well as the instructions received for State Board involvement. The testimony was met with silence from the LPS board.
The Nebraska Department of Education
The citizen filed a professional ethics complaint with the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) regarding the privacy violation and instructions for discussion of curriculum. The NDE commissioner dismissed the complaint without prejudice and suggested the citizen first try to resolve the matter with the local school board. The commissioner stated the complaint could be refiled if necessary. In fact, the citizen had suggested the NDE investigator watch video of the LPS board meeting to observe testimony related to the complaint.
The Attorney General
The citizen filed a complaint against the NDE commissioner with the Attorney General’s (AG) office. In a letter dated October 1, 2015, the AG’s office determined the matter was outside their authority and suggested the citizen may wish to contact a private attorney to pursue the matter further.
A subsequent letter from the AGs office dated October 26, 2015 regarding this same issue restated the office does not have supervisory power over the NDE and “Any dissatisfaction with the department’s handling of this matter should be addressed to the department.”
The citizen attended a congressman’s town hall and sought assistance obtaining answers from LPS regarding curriculum questions. The congressman’s office responded in a letter they did not have time to address all the issues from constituents at the town halls. Following the town hall, the citizen received a letter from LPS in response to some of the original curriculum questions.
LPS behavior assessment and remedy are a disappointment and validate citizen concerns. Two highly intelligent little girls, a kindergartner and a first grader in Lincoln Public Schools are both spending time in the “safe chair” as punishment for behavior issues as opposed to adjustments in curriculum and instruction to engage them intellectually.
State Board of Education
A citizen prepared math standards testimony to present at the August State Board of Education meeting public comment period. Prior to the start of the meeting, the citizen’s district representative approached and confirmed the citizen had prepared math standards testimony in addition to LPS concerns. Moments later, the NDE commissioner approached and confirmed the citizen had prepared math standards testimony in addition to LPS concerns.
As the State Board president opened the public comment period of the meeting, she announced no public comment regarding math standards would be allowed since they had taken math standards comments the day before during a work session.
Board Policy B12 states: “…This period may be available to any person who wishes to address the State Board on any subject within its authority.” * Directly following the citizen math standards testimony being silenced, the union president told stories about his grandchildren at the microphone, carried on NET live stream during the public comment time.
The citizen filed a complaint with the AGs office against the State Board president for her role to silence citizen input in violation of board policy. The AGs office responded in a letter dated October 26, 2015 “A body may not be required to allow citizens to speak at each meeting, but it may not forbid public participation at all meetings.” It is unknown if the union president’s grandchildren fall within the authority of the State Board,* the AGs office “decline(d) to address” that question.
The State Board received personal math standards testimony from “4 or 5” people total, at hearings set up for that purpose across the state of Nebraska. Apparently taking 3 minutes of additional math standards testimony would have overwhelmed the system.
Local control as it stands now does not serve citizens or students. Local control would serve student learning outcomes if it were solely in the hands of the consumer: students/parents/guardians. A committee of parents, grandparents, student learning advocates, private school administrators, home schoolers and public schoolers drafted a bill for school choice on steroids. The Nebraska Academic Savings Account Act.
90% of the state aid which would have gone to the school, instead would be deposited into an account to fund the individual student’s education. Parents/guardians choose which learning options best suit their child. Participants must agree to utilize effective reading and math curriculum and instruction. Participants are held accountable for student learning and achievement each year. Local control