Monday, August 1, 2011

Public Schools Need You

By Al Riskowski, Nebraska Family Council

The public school system needs your input. New teacher and principal effectiveness standards are being developed by the Nebraska Department of Education. There are some serious questions that need to be asked about the new standards. Fortunately the State Board has scheduled forums for public comment.

In speaking with Donlynn Rice, Curriculum and Instruction, Administrator, for the Nebraska Department of Education, I was assured the new standards would be general in nature and only guidelines, leaving the detailed implementation to individual school districts. This approach creates a major concern for me because the Omaha Public Schools just purchased 8,000 diversity manuals.

The Omaha Public Schools used more than $130,000 in federal stimulus money to buy each teacher, administrator and staff member a manual on how to be more culturally sensitive.

According to a July 10th Omaha World Herald article, the authors of the book assert that American government and institutions create advantages that “channel wealth and power to white people,” that color-blindness will not end racism and that educators should “take action for social justice.”

The book says that teachers should acknowledge historical systemic oppression in schools, including racism, sexism, homophobia and “ableism,” defined by the authors as discrimination or prejudice against people with disabilities.

The book says teachers must overcome irrational fear of homosexuality and reject the “color-blind” approach to teaching in which teachers treat all children the same. Instead, the group identity of students of color should be recognized and esteemed, the authors say.

The authors, Franklin and Brenda Campbell Jones and Randall B. Lindsey, write that their intent in the book is “to prepare educators to unshackle themselves from tradition and become facilitators for reconciliation of historical injustices.”

Will the State Board of Education and the Omaha Public Schools remember that Christians also deserve respect when it comes to religious liberty and our expression of faith?

As a July 12th World-Herald editorial points out, "in a multicultural society all sides need to demonstrate sincere respect." I definitely agree with the comment that everyone deserves respect. In a multiracial society, all sides need to demonstrate sincere respect, to work together to build a common future. Will the State Board of Education and the Omaha Public Schools remember that Christians also deserve respect when it comes to religious liberty and our expression of faith?

I spoke with Bob Evnen, from the State Board of Education and chair of the subcommittee on diversity and multiculturalism, and asked him how teachers would be deemed ‘culturally competent’ under the new effectiveness standards. Bob assured me that he would not support the term ‘social justice’ to be included in the school standards. He stated that such a term is typically interpreted to mean socialism and the promotion of a radical left agenda.

To see the schedule of public forums on the development of educator effectiveness guidelines or to make comments online you can go to the Nebraska Department of Education website at and click onto teachers/principal standards survey.

At Nebraska Family Council we have available some very helpful pamphlets on parent and student rights and involvement in public schools.

To discuss the educator effectiveness standards in more detail or to request some free copies of the pamphlets contact Nebraska Family Council at or toll free at 1-888-777-5188.

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