Will Omaha School Board pass or fail flunking bill?


Joe Jordan | Nebraska Watchdog

Does the Omaha School Board have the back of a

Stay tuned for Monday’s (tonight’s) board meeting.

“We may take a position if someone makes a motion,” Board President Justin Wayne tells Nebraska Watchdog.

If the nine member Omaha Public School panel supports State Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh’s controversial legislation (LB952) the board would be going against its own experts.

“Retention is not a good strategy,” Carla Noerrlinger, OPS’ Executive Director for Research, has told Nebraska Watchdog.

Either way Wayne says, “We do believe any statute or mandate by the state should be fully funded by the state.”

Scott Lautenbaugh

According to the numbers crunchers in Lincoln the bill would cost the state $3.1 million over the next few years.

The northwest Omaha senator’s plan would require schools to offer “accelerated reading intervention programs” for students from kindergarten through third grade who are struggling to read.

Third-graders who don’t meet the state’s minimum reading requirements would be held back but no more than twice.

“We are doing (students) harm by passing them along without requisite reading skills,” says Laughtenbaugh.

As Nebraska Watchdog has reported exclusively flunking at OPS has become old school. According to our investigation:

  • Two years ago out of 3,347 seventh-graders in OPS one flunked: that’s right one.
  • That same year one fifth-grader flunked; one out of 3,719 fellow fifth-graders.
  • Last year, from kindergarten through eighth grade, there were 36,106 OPS students: 140 flunked. That’s 0.4 percent or 0.004
  • For the 2012-2013 school year 38 percent of OPS third-graders —down from 46 percent in 2009-2010—did not meet the state’s reading standards.
  • That means out of 4,054 third-graders 1,541 came up short on reading proficiency.
  • How many of those third-graders flunked? Six.

During a public hearing on Lautenbaugh’s bill last week educators and parents told the Legislature’s Education Committee “holding kids back” isn’t the answer and does more harm than good.

OPS officials did not testify.

It’s not clear when the committee will vote whether to send Lautenbaugh’s proposal to the full legislature.

Contact Joe Jordan at joe@nebraskawatchdog.org and listen to Joe every Monday morning at 7:40 on KFAB radio in Omaha.

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