By Kristyna Engdahl
January 3, 2016
An aggressive new initiative vows to bring charter schools to Nebraska. The only problem is that the state is one of seven where they’re not allowed.
Educate Nebraska, which launched Sunday, wants to change that. Officials said the competition created by charter schools increases performance by both teachers and students.
“This is all about freedom,” Educate Nebraska Executive Director Katie Linehan said. “No one’s forced to go to a charter school, no one’s forced to work at a charter school.”
Linehan said it does, though, give parents a choice.
A charter school is a public school without being part of the public school district. It’s monitored by a state-appointed group, but families get more say in performance.
“If a charter school is not performing, it closes, as it should,” Linehan said.
Under the charter model, state funding would follow the student, which Linehan said comes at no extra cost to taxpayers.
There are about 500 schools in Nebraska. According to data from the Nebraska Department of Education, some of the lowest-performing schools are within a 5-mile radius in Northeast Omaha.
“We have a school up the street, an OPS school, that has 12 percent proficiency in math,” Linehan said.