Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Nebraska Politics : The Learning Community : A Lesson in Futility

The learning community. That’s the name of the money-hungry monstrosity created by the Nebraska Legislature in response to the battle for property tax turf by Omaha area school districts. It's the result of the Legislature's unwillingness to reform the K-12 funding system.

It happens all over the state. Neighboring school districts attack each other to acquire more property tax territory to fund their schools. The usual response of the Legislature is to raid the state treasury and throw more state aid -- state sales and income tax dollars -- at local districts to pacify them.

The Legislature is trying to pacify warring Omaha area districts with a new dodge. The Legislature put the 11 school districts in Douglas and Sarpy Counties into one super-district with a common tax levy. No turf battles for property tax base. It's one, big, happy valuation base serving all the districts in the learning community.

But they’re still fighting about money. Now they’re fighting about how much money each district should get from the common levy -- which I predicted would happen.

And you know where that debate is going to go. Hey, let’s raise the levy and generate enough money to satisfy all of us so we don’t have to fight with each other for funds.

I know leading voices in the community are lecturing you to embrace the learning community. Don’t do it. Fight it. Force a crisis. Demand true reform of K-12 funding in Nebraska. Don't accept this sham that does nothing to improve learning and ultimately will cost more money.

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