Legislative Updates

NSEA Legislative Update - March 17, 2017

Today’s Message:

  1. Say No to the Charter School Scheme
  2. Two Bills Would Hurt Student Achievement
  3. Final Week of Committee Hearings
  4. Review of Recent Hearings

NOTE: For a list of all introduced bills and resolutions introduced during the 2017 Legislative Session, click here.  For a list of all priority bills, click here.

Say No to LB630’s Charter School Scheme

LB630, introduced by Sen. Tyson Larson, would create “Independent Schools” that are exempt from all regulations applicable to public schools. These schools would be totally exempt from the hours of instruction required, from hiring professional certificated teachers, and oversight from an elected school board. These schools would take taxpayer money, so they should be held to the same standards of accountability, transparency and providing access to all students as our neighborhood public schools.

NSEA supports opportunities for all students, regardless of background or ZIP code. Access to a great public school is at the core of that opportunity. We stand against efforts to undermine public schools through charters and vouchers.

These “Independent Schools” – another name for charter schools – have not helped other states and would not help Nebraska or its students. Numerous studies have shown that charters on average do not get better results than regular public schools. Charter schools weaken the regular public schools by taking money away from neighborhood public schools.

Let’s get serious about doing what works: resourcing our neighborhood public schools so students have the support they need, more one-on-one attention, inviting classrooms, and a well-rounded curriculum. Resourced neighborhood public schools that are desirable places to be and learn are our best practice for setting every student in Nebraska off to a great future. To help children in underperforming schools, we need to ensure that taxpayer dollars are invested in our neighborhood public schools to allow for innovation and so that every child in every community has a good quality neighborhood school to attend.

ACTION NEEDED: NSEA encourages you to email, write or call your state senator, and to email the members of the Education Committee to encourage them to Indefinitely Postpone LB630.  Here are the Education Committee contacts:

Sen. Mike Groene, Chair              mgroene@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Rick Kolowski, Vice-Chair     rkolowski@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Laura Ebke                          lebke@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Steve Erdman                      serdman@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Lou Ann Linehan                  llinehan@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Adam Morfeld                       amorfeld@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks           ppansingbrooks@leg.ne.gov

Sen. Lynne Walz                         lwalz@leg.ne.gov


LB650 & LB568 Would Hurt Student Achievement

It is essential to student success that we protect and promote high standards for entry into the teaching profession. Our focus must be on the goal of having a high-quality teacher in every classroom.

LB650 and LB568 seek to increase the number of teachers without guaranteeing their quality and ability to teach P-12 students.

NSEA believes that all teachers entering the profession must demonstrate subject matter competence, pedagogical skills, and teaching ability before entering the classroom as a teacher-of-record.  Alternative route programs must maintain the same standards as other teacher preparation programs and must be equal in rigor and content.

Research has shown that the strongest predictor of student achievement is a well-qualified teacher – that is, those with full certification and a major in the subject they are teaching. A strong negative predictor of student achievement is the proportion of teachers on emergency certificates.

Possessing a doctoral degree or college teaching experience does not guarantee the skills and expertise needed to teach in today’s challenging classrooms and to reach young learners. Certification and completion of an approved education program ensure that teacher candidates have the skills needed and understand the psychology of teaching primary, intermediate, middle and high school students.

A huge amount of pedagogy – knowing how young people learn – is necessary, and must be taught and learned by teachers. NSEA believes the essential characteristics of a quality teacher include: (1) knowing his/her subject matter; (2) knowing how to teach that subject matter; and (3) understanding how students learn and what it takes to reach them.


Final Week of Committee Hearings

Unless otherwise noted, hearings begin at 1:30 p.m. and are live-streamed via NET and can be accessed online by clicking here. For a list of committee chairs and members, click here.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Business and Labor Committee – Room 1507 (1:30 pm)

LB503 (Brewer) Prohibit certain provisions in collective-bargaining agreements

NSEA Position: Oppose

Any collective bargaining agreement involving a public employer shall not contain provisions requiring or allowing the deduction of union dues from a public employee’s wages. Also, a public employer shall not deduct union dues from the wages of a public employee.

LB598 (Groene) Require consideration of certain factors by CIR when establishing wage rights

NSEA Position: Oppose

Requires consideration of certain factors such as a political subdivision's ability to pay by the Court of Industrial Relations when establishing wage rights, local demographic data, economic trends, private sector wages and benefits.

Education Committee – Room 1525 (1:30 pm)

LB155 (Brasch) Require successful completion of a civics exam as a prerequisite to high school graduation

NSEA Position: Oppose

Beginning in school year 2018-2019, high school students in public, private, denominational, parochial and exempt schools shall correctly answer 70% of the questions on the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services as a prerequisite for graduation.

LB308 (Brasch) Change provisions relating to the committee on Americanism

NSEA Position: Monitor

Specifies that each school district’s committee on Americanism shall hold no fewer than 3 public meetings annually with a least one where public testimony is accepted, requires minutes of all meetings showing time a place of meeting, members in attendance and substance and details of all matters being discussed, and requires curriculum approved by committee on Americanism be accessible to the public

LB14 (Krist) Require successful completion of a civics exam as a prerequisite to high school graduation

NSEA Position: Oppose

Beginning in school year 2018-2019, high school students in public school districts shall correctly answer 70% of the questions on the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services as a prerequisite for graduation.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Education Committee – Room 1525 (1:30 pm)

LB540 (Stinner) Provide for a temporary aid adjustment factor in TEEOSA

NSEA Position: Oppose

Modifies the calculation of formula need in TEEOSA aid by providing for a temporary aid adjustment factor. The temporary aid adjustment factor reduces TEEOSA aid by a percentage of needs to the extent of the total preliminary allocated income tax and preliminary net option funding calculated for school fiscal years 2017/18 and 2018/19. Allocated income tax and net options funding calculations are modified and reduced by amounts related to the temporary aid adjustment factor. Under current statute, the formula needs of a local system are based on the school district’s basic funding, allowances, adjustments and corrections without a reduction by an adjustment factor. The allocated income tax and net option funding are also fully calculated and funded.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Revenue Committee – Room 1524 (1:30 pm)

LB373 (Schumacher) Change and eliminate revenue and taxation provisions

NSEA Position: Support

Repeals, phases out or reduces a number of tax exemptions and incentive programs, enacted in the past ten years including: phase out Sports Arena bonding and tax incentives; repeal Build Nebraska Act (.25% sales tax for roads), Ag land valuation increased to 80%, repeal personal property tax relief exemptions, community development projects bonding and tax exemptions, re-instates the state estate tax, building construction materials sales tax exemption, manufacturing materials, re-instates tax on admission and fees collected by non-profits, and Nebraska Advantage tax credits and exemptions.


Review of Recent Public Hearings

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Education Committee – Room 1525 (1:30 pm)

LB630 (Larson) Adopt the Independent Public Schools Act

NSEA Position: Oppose

Create a new category of public schools referred to as “independent public schools” (IPS) which are under the authority of a newly created commission, “Independent Public School Authorizing and Accountability Commission,” outside of NDE. IPS’s are authorized to operate by entering into a compact with either a public school district or the newly created commission. Once granted, the compact is in place for five-year terms. Each independent school must reapply no less than one year prior to the compact’s expiration. Each independent school must submit annual reports including a detailed financial statement. NDE is required to publish the annual report on its website.

LB650 (Linehan) Change provisions for teaching certificates

NSEA Position: Oppose

Adds additional certificate options to teach in public schools upon passage of the appropriate subject area examination. Certificate options include: college credit earned; earned doctorate from a postsecondary educational institution; holding a teaching certificate issued by a national or regional educator-credentialing agency; and, completion of an alternative certification program. In addition, it creates an adjunct teaching certificate for applicants who have expertise in the subject area and fulfill the requirements of the rules and regulations. Expertise includes having sufficient content mastery as evidenced by passage of a subject area examination and limited to part-time teaching. Renewal contingent upon satisfactory performance evaluations.

LB568 (Groene) Change provisions related to temporary teaching certificates

NSEA Position: Oppose

Creates a new temporary teaching certificate for substitute teachers for both private and public schools. An applicant must meet the following requirements: 1) be at least 21 years of age; 2) possess a valid high school diploma; 3) complete 24 hours of in-service training; 4) complete ten hours of classroom observation at each educational level, elementary, middle school, and high school; 5) complete a course and pass an exam on the United States Constitution and on the Nebraska Constitution; 6) submit to fingerprinting for a criminal background check; and 7) complete an application and pay the required fee.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Health and Human Services Committee – Room 1525 (1:30 pm)

LB552 (Walz) Provise for the Children’s Connection program

NSEA Position: Support

Creates a Children’s Connection Program in each of the behavioral health regions. Each program shall be a partnership between the behavioral health region and Nebraska schools serving children in kindergarten through grade eight. The goals of the programs are to identify children with social and emotional difficulties and to work with parents, schools, and health care providers to provide timely, effective, and family-centered services to prevent child welfare or juvenile justice system involvement. Two million dollars each fiscal year shall be appropriated to DHHS for distribution to each of the behavioral health regions to establish the programs.