Washington’s education policymakers have used a policy of shaming and threatening careers of teachers in a vain hope that such a policy will close the educational achievement gap between rich and poor children. This policy has failed in every state in the union, including Nebraska. But they continue the failed system because of big donors who are cashing in on local education taxes.

Our state education leaders have minimized the damage done by Washington. But they have not been able to ignore them completely, since federal funds make-up over 5% of Nebraska’s education budget or over $200 million.

But there may be a new ray of hope for our children; a new member of the state board of education, Robin Stevens, opposes using the state’s accountability system to shame and threaten schools. Mr. Stevens is a retired school superintendent who also supports age 3 to 5 preschool and in-home support for at risk children before age 3. All of which is supported by research that documents the damage done to young brains by toxic stress long before school age. This toxic stress is more common among poor children, explaining the educational achievement gap.

For the sake of children our education leaders in Nebraska must take a stand against Washington’s failed education policies. All statewide testing, national testing and international testing shows the same results — there continues to be a huge educational achievement gap — the shaming and threats demanded by Washington have failed.

Mr. Stevens and I suspect several others on the State Board believe in research. But they may have a fight with certain members of the Education Committee of the Unicameral who are supporters of diverting taxpayer funds to corporate (charter) and private schools. For the sake of our children, I pray Mr. Stevens and others succeed.

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