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Nation's largest teachers' union funds local effort to kill Nebraska's first-ever school choice bill — parent claims unions 'fear' program will 'impact their bottom line'
July 27, 2023
The nation's largest teachers' union is financially backing a local effort to kill Nebraska's first school choice bill, passed earlier this year.
The Opportunity Scholarship Act would provide tax credits to individuals and corporations contributing to nonprofit scholarship organizations. Those funds would then be used to provide students with private school scholarships, giving priority to lower-income families.
Support Our Schools Nebraska, a nonprofit group led by the state teachers' union Nebraska State Education Association, has attempted to block the program, claiming it is a "private school tax scheme" that will reduce public school funding.
In May, at the time of the bill's passing, only 47% of students were proficient in English and 46% in math, despite the state spending roughly $13,000 per child.
The state program plans to set aside $50 million in tax credits for scholarships. Additionally, public school funding increased by $1.3 billion this year.
Governor Jim Pillen (R) insisted that the boost to public school funding was separate and that "not a penny" would be used for the school choice program.
Despite the governor's reassurances, Support Our Schools Nebraska launched a petition to get it on the 2024 ballot in hopes of repealing the program.
NSEA president Jenni Benson stated this week, "We have five weeks left, and we will have this on the ballot because we are well on our way to getting what we need."
Disclosure reviews by the Washington Free Beacon revealed that the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union, funded 80% of Support Our Schools Nebraska's effort to kill the school choice program. The outlet reported that the NEA gave the nonprofit $800,000 while its state-level affiliate handed over another $60,000.
Nebraska mom Clarice Jackson has strongly advocated for the state's first-ever school choice program, even recently confronting an NSEA affiliate in a viral video on social media.
Jackson told Fox News Digital that she believes the union is retaliating against the program out of "fear," noting that it is "unfortunate because it's about students."
"I really think it's fear from the teachers union, because if it weren't, they wouldn't be fighting so hard," she stated. "They obviously believe that many families will choose another option and that that will in some way impact their bottom line."
Jackson explained that her daughter, who suffered from dyslexia, went through the state's public school system in the early 2000s and "could not read simple two and three-letter words."
"When we were navigating the system for my daughter, their solution to me was, 'We're doing the very best we can do for her," she continued. "What is your solution for a family? What would you tell me?"
"And every time I've asked that question, they don't have an answer," Jackson added.
The NEA did not respond to a request for comment, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
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Candace Hathaway is a staff writer for Blaze News.