Gov. Ricketts recently released an article that continued his assault on Nebraska public schools. These negative comments come as a surprise to no one because the governor has a core fundamental belief that our public school system, and their local board of education members, are the foundational issues with all that is wrong in our state taxing system. He has expressed time and time again that he believes local school systems are the reason for high property taxes while continually refusing to acknowledge that our state is 49th in the country for state assistance in education, causing the overreliance on property taxes. He has backed up these beliefs with action by blocking every legislative bill that would rebalance the taxing structure in our state over the last several years.
In his article, Gov. Ricketts scrutinized local spending and inferred that local boards are not capable of being trusted with the power to tax their communities. This insult on the intelligence of the local boards, and those that vote to put them in power, was discouraging. The governor has been a proponent of local control, but it appears that only means when it fits his agenda. This continued negative rhetoric really stings because our local officials are those that are willing to volunteer in their community, put their reputation on the line, and sacrifice their personal and family time to make their community better. To drag them through the mud and insult their abilities to govern locally is a shame and doesn’t fit our Nebraska values.
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Additionally, throughout the article Gov. Ricketts refused to call public schools as such, but instead referred to them as ‘government schools.’ And let us be the first to say, the governor can call public schools whatever fits the agenda, because it will NEVER change the mission. The mission of ‘government schools’ is to ensure all students have access to a high-quality education, that all students are provided college and career-ready opportunities, that all students become critical thinkers, that all students learn how to become upstanding members of society, and that locally elected community members are making decisions for their schools to best set our future generation up for success. So while the name may change, the mission of 'government schools' will live on!
This editorial was written and submitted jointly by:
Dr. Aaron Plas – Superintendent of Lakeview Community Schools
Dr. Troy Loeffelholz – Superintendent of Columbus Public Schools
Mr. Chip Kay – Superintendent of Shelby-Rising City Public Schools
Mr. Greg Sjuts – Superintendent of Humphrey Public Schools
Mr. John Weidner – Superintendent of Twin River Public Schools