Committee on Education

Public Hearing

February 11, 1991


Page 11


LB 245


SENATOR WITHEM:  Next, we have LB 245, which is a bill that I will be presenting, so Senator Dierks, I will turn that over to you.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Perhaps for those of you who are just arriving, we've been going through some Confirmation Hearings for the Nebraska Safety Council, and we started about a quarter after one, so some of you didn't get in here when the Committee was being introduced.  I'd like to do that right now while Senator Withem is signing in.  On my far right over here, Senator Arlene Nelson from Grand Island, and the vacant chair is Senator Chizek's chair.  I'm not sure that he'll be here today from Omaha.  Senator Ed Schrock from Elm Creek, and then Larry Scherer is the Committee Counsel.  Senator Withem who is at the witness stand right now will be running the hearing.  I'm Cap Dierks from Ewing.  Senator Jerry Warner, on my left, from Waverly.  Senator Chris Beutler from Lincoln.  Senator Howard Lamb from Anselmo, and LaRue Wunderlich is the Committee Clerk.  So the way we do this is we have a bill presented, and then we take proponent testimony, and then we take opponent testimony, and then we take neutral testimony.  If there are any questions that come up along the way, just ask us.  Senator Withem.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Senator Dierks, Members of the Committee, I'm going to take a little bit of any opportunity here to speak to you in little broader terms about the whole education agenda, as I get into LB 245.  If you recall one of the first times the committee met in Executive Session we had some discussions about, you know, where does education policy need to go in Nebraska.  And I'm going to ask your indulgence for me to comment as Chair of the Education Committee where I think we've been in terms of education policy and where I think we need to be going.  It's been my observation that the landscape of politics concerning Nebraska education for the past too many years has been on two main issues.  The issue of how big does your school need to be, and whether we should be forcing consolidation of schools or whether we ought to be leaving things as they are.  The other issue is how do we pay for public education


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 12


in Nebraska.  Although we have lots of things probably still need to be addressed in those two areas, I think the Legislature has made pretty strong statements in the last couple of years about how they'd like to see those issues dealt with.  Legislative bill 1059, the school finance bill, has radically changed the way we fund education.  We're still going to have to pay attention to what happens to that, but we've turned a major corner there.  I think with LB 259, the bill that passed last year dealing with the affiliation concept, and in other items, we've turned the corner and ought to be able to put the issue for school district reorganization behind us.  That allows us the opportunity to focus on what we really ought to be about, and that is how best can we change our education system in our state to better serve students.  How can we assure ourselves that young people in the state are getting the skills and the knowledge need to become very productive members of our society.  And the more you read on education policy, the more you visit with people like Frank Newman, who was here last...  or two weeks ago, the more you attend national conferences, you become convince that regardless of what you think about the current status of schools in our state, we've got to be about the business of improving, improving what they do in the schools.  There are going to be more challenges placed in front of the schools.  we going to have to be expecting more from them.  What LB 245 is an attempt to do is to move us in that direction.  I have come to the conclusion in Chairing this committee in the last four years that we do have a major problem with Nebraska education and that is we do not really know how well we're doing.  We don't know if we're doing extremely well, if we're doing extremely poorly, or if we have areas of strength and areas of weakness.  I would assume the latter is probably the case.  There's probably some things we are doing quite well.  There are probably some things that we should be doing a lot better.  We really don't have reliable methods of measuring how well schools are doing.  Before we can really get activity involved in creating specific policies, or urging local school districts more accurately to create the specific policies to change the way in which kids are educated.  We really need to know where we are in this particular system.  So what LB 245 urges that we do is create a Nebraska Schools Accountability Commission.  Membership for the Commission is laid out here in Section 2.  It's basically a mix of educators and private citizens, political people, business people.  Their job is twofold, or actually threefold.  First phase is for them as a Commission to determine what are the expectations of-the schools in our state, or more stated in terms of learner outcomes.  What is


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 13


it we expect students to be able to demonstrate that they can do as a result of their education?  Typically, these are things stated in terms of, we expect the student to be able to write a simple paragraph with a minimum number of errors in it that are argues a particular point of view.  We expect a student to be able to perform a particular type of mathematic calculation.  This Commission in its first phase would determine what it is we expect students to be able to do at various stages of completing their education.  Second phase of their work would be to determine what methods are we going to use to determine whether they've met those levels.  Lot of times you get into problems in this area of accountability where Legislators or educators want to go to the shelf and pull down a preexisting standardized test, the ACT test, the SAT test, the CAT, the Iowa Basics, and NAEP, any of those other tests, and say this will be our method of measuring.  And if the students do well on these, they will be doing fine; if they don't do well, then we have a problem.  Problem with a lot of these tests are, we really don't know if they're measuring what it is we in Nebraska want our students to be able to perform.  So in phase 2, the panel will--using some of these preexisting measurement standards probably--they will be creating the methods by which we'll determine how well our schools are doing.  Then phase 3 will be an implementation phase where these recommendations will be given to the State Board of Education.  Some of them may need to come back in the form of legislation, and will monitor the implementation.  I know the whole question of accountability is one that's been tossed around for decades in the area of education.  It's really one we can't ignore anymore.  People are demanding more from the schools, they're demanding as their tax dollars go to support education, they're demanding that they be assured that those dollars are being used productively.  I would not view accountability as a negative.  I don't think we're attempting to prove that there's anything bad going on the schools necessarily, but we are trying to identify those areas of weaknesses, so we can move to improve upon those.  If we find out that a given school district is having problems in the area of teaching mathematics, then that local school board knows that it has a problem, and needs to address that.  If we find out as a state that all of our students are doing poorly in the area of science education, then we may need a state policy to correct that.  Until we really know how well our students are doing in these areas, we can't really know specific policies we do need to be promoting.  So with that, I think, I'm hoping anyway, they're are going to be a number of people here commenting on the bill.  It is one, you know


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 14


frankly, we're using the commission method again.  It was fairly successful in the creation of 1059, 1 think fairly successful in our Higher Education Study, and it's another attempt to use that model, as opposed to the Legislature passing a bill, establishing standards, and telling all of the school districts in the State what standards they have to meet.  It's a process whereby members of the Legislature, members of the general public, members of the Education Committee, will work together to create the model of accountability that we want to use in our state.  Larry had a number of handouts, and I forgot to pick those up, but there are some examples ...  didn't I forget to pick them up...  or are they, oh, they are handed out.  There's an example of what's gone on in the State of Kentucky, where most of you are aware Kentucky had not only their school finance system thrown out by the Courts, but their whole system of education, and told to start again.  In Kentucky they're doing something very similar here, whether identifying learner outcomes.  They will be using those as a method of determining where there's been improvement in schools, where there hasn't been improvement in schools.  School districts where there's been a great deal of improvement, they will be receiving resources, as a reward for that.  School districts where they've been having problems, will receive help, and in some ways the help is initially not that negative sort-of arrangement, and in some cases if it's very severe, it'll be out-and-out state takeover of schools in Kentucky.  That just happens to be the way they're doing this in Kentucky.  The State of Washington is looking at something similar to this.  A couple of other handouts, an article here just indicate that we're not necessarily urging a single standardized test that preexist, some indications that there may be problems with that approach.  In an article written here in the Phi Delta Kappan by Chris Pepho.  Chris is a consultant with the Education Commission of the States, commenting on accountability.  With that, if you have any questions, I would try to respond to them; if not, we can listen to...


SENATOR WITHEM:  Questions for Senator Withem?  Senator Beutler.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Just one, Ron, if I could.  The whole bill describes a process, and other than the Statement of Intent and descriptive materials in it, the operative provisions of the bill describe simply the process, except Section 3, down lines 21 through 24.  There seems to be a statement of a conclusion reached pert-taps before the study even begins.


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 15


SENATOR WITHEM:  Where?  I'm sorry.


SENATOR BEUTLER:  Page 4, lines 21 to 24.  "It is the intent of the Legislature that specific school curricula should continue to be established by locally elected school boards." Well, that's true, that's the principle we've always followed, and probably, undoubtedly will be the one we will continue to follow, but I'm just curious as to why one statement of one assumption is made, and as far as I can see is the only assumption that's made in describing the whole process.  And whether we should make any assumptions at all, when we're starting the process.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Now the question you raise as to whether we should make those assumptions in the bill is a valid one.  We'll have to decide as a Committee.  I think I wanted this in the bill initially because to make it clear that it's not my intent to create some state mandated curriculum necessarily.  That I am not as interested as I used to be.  Four or five years ago I would probably have been very interested in seeing the curriculum handbooks of different school districts in the State, and making a judgment on how well, how good a school is, or how poor a school is based on whether they offer advanced calculus.  Or whether they offer some other types of programs.  I'm convinced now that that isn't what's important.  What's important is when the child completes third grade, completes eighth grade, completes high school, or whatever other benchmarks you may want to use, can the student perform well in the area of mathematics.  I think it's pretty clear, I think it's important to state the intent clearly to people that may misjudge this bill that we're not interested in getting the State into this area of dictating curriculum.  What we're interested in doing, is having the State set some standards of accountability, and then leaving the ability to get their students to meet those levels at the local level.  Whether it is out of place here with the rest of the bill, I don't have strong feelings on it's inclusion or exclusion from the bill.  But the reason that language is in there is because we ought to make it clear that this is not an attempt to create a specific prescription for what each student in the State will be doing at any given time.  That local school districts, local teachers, parents, are better judges of how best you can get a particular group of students up to a level of achievement than we are at the state level.




SENATOR DIERKS:  Senator Warner.


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 16


SENATOR WARNER:  Got couple, couple...  this bill indicates appropriations for the dollar amounts, but to what agency are they...  (inaudible).  I don't see anything that says what agency.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Yeah, it says, what we have in here is intent language.  This is a, the new Larry Scherer method of bill drafting here because we used to in the Education Committee include the specific appropriation in the bill, and we ran into some problems on the floor a time or two with some Senators looking for an A-bill, not seeing an A-bill., and then thinking we fooled them because we didn't have an A-bill with the bill.  So we're just stating here that this an intent to appropriate this, when the A-bill comes in, it'll have the appropriate agency.  And I assume it will be Department of Education.  Although it, could, I suppose, go to--as did the Higher Ed Study--it went to Legislative Research.  And maybe as we in Exec Session, we ought to discuss who would be the appropriate agency to receive this.


SENATOR WARNER:  Yeah, okay, yeah, it was the absence of it...




SENATOR WARNER:  That I was wondering if...


SENATOR WITHEM:  Yeah, in the A-bill itself with, when it comes along, it will appropriate to the specific agency.






SENATOR WARNER:  Where, yeah, where the ...  what was going to go along with this is that there's some consultants who select the consultants, I take it the body does, or the committee, Commission does, but I assume they aren't authorized to sign a contract, so, someone would have to sign the contract, whomever the appropriation was made.




SENATOR WARNER:  Which is no big deal, but...  (Inaudible) ...  in general, you've had bills like this before now, we've had a couple of them.  Do you think...  it's kind of philosophical question ...  of the appropriateness of


committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 17


asking the legislation to mix...  the executive and the legislative branch of government to do studies by appropriation.  I notice the three Legislators are appointed by the Exec Board, or some appointed by the, by the Governor, I rather suspect if this was anything other than the Study, I suspect that makes it unconstitutional.  it's probably unconstitutional anyway, but in material.  Is there a broad philosophy that is appropriate for mixing Executive and Legislative, as well as the appointive authority, between ...  in this case, the.,..?


SENATOR WITHEM:  Yeah.  Yeah, I think there is.  I had, I know, another Legislator had come across this bill, and raised that same question.  So I've been able to give it a little bit of thought, since coming in here.  I, I think, if, if this were going to be a group of people that had the power to impose a curriculum, shut down some schools, reward other schools,.  then there clearly ought to ...  that would clearly be an executive function, and there clearly ought not to be any Legislators participating in it.  But this isn't that type of committee.  This is basically a group of people that are going to study a program, are going to make some recommendations to the State Board of Education.  And the State Board of Education will be in the administrative role, or whoever else that the Legislature may choose through enacting legislation to implement the standards.  I think, yeah, I think bringing people together to do an exhaustive look at a problem.  And the whole question of our schools doing the job that they ought to be doing, and should they be doing something different than they're doing, is certainly a complex, perplexing question.  And to bring together a mixture of Legislators that are responsible for policy, and those people that are responsible for implementation of policy, plus private citizens, with really no responsibilities inherent on their own, I think Is a good mix to deal with problems.  It's worked, I think, fairly well in areas where I've been involved, and I've seen the same model operate in other areas.  So I think it's a good mix.  I don't have the problems of mixing Legislators and executive people together, as long as it's in a study mode, a problem solving mode, and not in an enacting mode, or a administrative mode.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Other questions?


SENATOR WARNER:  One of these legislative were the Governor, this one there appointed by the assume there was ...  I assume there was a...  accident, or...  appointed by Exec Board, I Was that by


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 18


SENATOR WITHEM:  Yeah, it really is.  I think I've had bills drafted both ways, and no, there is no...  School Finance Review Commission Legislators were appointed by the Governor.  I believe the Higher Ed Study, they were appointed by the Executive Board.  I have no real strong preference one way or the other.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Senator Lamb has a question?


SENATOR LAMB:  I assume that to implement the recommendations of this Committee, Commission, would require some funding, which is down the road from what we're talking about here, but, it ..  How does this differ from LB 994, where there were I believe plans to...  and I certainly support your thesis here in that we need to see what needs to be done, and see what changes should be made.  But I'm looking down the road at 994, which was never really funded to any great extent.  Are we going to have the same problems here if the Commission comes up with all these guidelines, and the schools will say, well, we can't do that without additional money.  Are we going to run into that same sort of road block that 994 ran into?


SENATOR WITHEM:  We can if they say that.  What 994 was, was a bill I supported, and think was the right bill at the right time.  Unfortunately, we didn't have the funding to do some of the things.  But basically what 994 was a series of new mandates, and or new add-on programs that would be optional--more hours, more time in the school, greater requirements for teachers, new programs coming from the State to solve problems at the local level.  The thought in education reform is that while that may have done some good, it's not going to solve the basic problems, particularly when en you enter a time, where not just in Nebraska, but all across the country.  We don't have the resources to pour lots of new money into education.  I think I've seen some studies where in the Eighties, considerable sums of money in real dollars, not just keeping up with inflation, but in real dollars, 30 percent additional of real dollars put into education, largely in form of new programs and add-ons.  We just not going to be able to do that anymore.  What I think we're going to need to do is identify areas of concern, and ask for it "reprioritization".  So, you know, that's a little bit of my philosophy.  I guess it begs the question that will we possibly run into this problem of this group identifying some new things that need to be done.  Not having the money to do that, that is a definite possibility.  But it would be my hope, instead of looking for lots of new


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 19


programs, if we have problems with educating people in math, rather than forcing more mathematics programs on to schools, let's look at innovative ways in which same dollars can be spent to do a better job of educating people in the area of math.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Senator Nelson.


SENATOR NELSON:  Senator Withem, I commend you for the idea, and so on, but I wonder, and I'm somewhat familiar with Kentucky, and so on, that we all sincerely believe in what you're trying to do, and so on.  But what is the problem with our present system?  We know the goal.; that we want to reach, or I think we do; in other words, primarily maybe reallocate the dollars that we have in funding for education, and we all agree we're not getting the desired results that we want.  But do you really think this Commission could come up with any better answers than we're grasping for now?  I think we're all grasping for those answers, and we need them, but how to get to that end is another big problem.  And I'm thinking, sure they can identify them, but are they going to be able to tell us how to accomplish what we want to.  Primarily, it becomes reallocation of our dollars, and our dollars better spent not throwing more dollars, I don't think to education.


SENATOR WITHEM:  No, no, and I don't think this Commission should be telling local professionals specifically what it is they need to do.  I think that's been one of the problems we've had in the area of education.  We have said, for instance, because students don't do as well in math as they should, we're going to mandate that every school district in the State have one more math class, without knowing how well our students are doing in math.  And then if we know that there's a problem in math, let the people at the local level who are accomplished, trained people in the area of math education, let them determine the strategy at the local level to bring about the improvement.  But that we at the State expect them to reach a particular level of accomplishment, and if they reach that level, fine, and the other side of this is we're not going to nitpick them on how big their library anymore; or a bunch of the other sorts input standards that we have.  We'll say if your students do well in math, that's fine, you're doing okay; and if they're not, then we need to identify new ways, new ways to improve it.


SENATOR NELSON:  That's what I mean, we need to identify new ways to reach that goal, but it would seem to me like right


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 20


.now we're all trying to reach it now.  And if we had the knowledge to say how to do it, we'd do it, without creating another Commission.  That's what I'm saying.




SENATOR NELSON:  In other words, we're striving to get that answer now, and we don't know how to reach out and get it.


SENATOR WITHEM:  But we're not doing it in a very organized sense.


SENATOR NELSON:  Well, maybe that's...I'm not sure.


SENATOR WITHEM:  This brings about...  what we're doing is kind of a hit and miss sort of approach with, you know, some people over here saying, that, kids as long as they know how to add, that's enough.  And others over here saying, they ought to be able to perform advanced calculus concerns, and each side saying that the other one is wrong.  We're talking about an organized approach at dealing with the problem here.




SENATOR DIERKS:  Other questions for Senator Withem?  Ron, I guess one of the questions I had was, is there enough time between September 1, '91 to December 31, '91 to do all this?


SENATOR WITHEM:  That's the question I had when I first saw the draft come back.  That time might need to be adjusted somewhat.  You know, back to some of the things that Senator Lamb indicated 994, some of the comments Senator Nelson's made.  We're not really starting from ground zero on this.  We have other states to model upon.  We've had some of our own experience, so it shouldn't take as long.  It should have to be a three-year study to do phase 1, 1 don't think, but it, it...  that time might be a little bit tight.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Does this, this pretty much parallels then the school restructuring legislation.  Is this, it will be quite an adjunct to it, wouldn't it?


SENATOR WITHEM:  It would be quite adjunct to the school restructuring.  As a matter of fact, it would be kind of an answer to what is it you're restructuring for, the two ought to tie together fairly well.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Is it the intent of this legislation that


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 21


this committee would delve into every aspect of education, even though it might step on some toes?




SENATOR DIERKS:  I mean if we're talking about teacher tenure law, and maybe merit pay, and...


SENATOR WITHEM:  Ahh...  no...  personally I have no problems with delving into those areas.  This, though, specifically looks at the areas of learner outcomes.  And if one of the recommendations, well ...  No, it probably wouldn't have much to do with merit pay, or with tenure, or any of those other things, it would look at...  I will personalize it here.  I have a third grader who every day goes off to school and sits in a third grade classroom, and spends in my opinion an inordinate amount of time doing worksheets and busy work, and that kind of thing.  It would look at what do we want that young person to be able to do by the time she's into third grade.  What do we expect her to do by the time she's finished with eighth grade?  What do we expect her to be able to do by the time she's out of high school?  It's kind of a first step.  Then if we find that we have, that we aren't meeting those levels, and we find some schools.  Or some areas in our state where they aren't meeting up to those levels; or if in a local area they find a particular class, a particular school within a district that's having problems.  Arid there are other things that may be done in terms of remediation to improve that situation.  But this doesn't really get into those tenure and those kind of things.


SENATOR DIERKS:  Thank you.  Are there other questions for Senator Withem?  I think that's all.




SENATOR DIERKS:  First proponent, please.


MILAN WALL:  Senator Withem, with your permission I need to leave town for a meeting out West, would you mind if I spoke to both 245 and 699?


SENATOR WITHEM:  If you'll promise you'll leave town, I'll let you do almost anything, Milan.


MILAN WALL:  I figured that would help.  My name is Milan Wall.  I'm Executive Director of Nebraska Center for Excellence in Education.  Our organization does not


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 22


officially take positions on proposed legislation but these two bills seem to me to be so consistent with the philosophy and intent of our ten-year program of school restructuring and reform, known as a decade of change that I wanted to get that on the record.  (EXHIBIT F, LBs 245 and 699 Education Committee) (EXHIBIT G, LBs 245 and 699 Education Committee) (EXHIBIT K, LB 699, Education Committee) The background, NCEE is a consortium of school districts.  Our membership now totals 19 school districts statewide.  Those members are reprinted in a membership information portion of materials I'm handing to you.  They include Bellevue, Blair, now Chadron, as well as Columbus, Elkhorn, Fremont, Grand Island, Gretna, Hastings, Lexington, Lincoln, McCook, Millard, Norfolk, North Platte, Ralston, South Sarpy, Weeping Water, and Westside.  The organization, about two years ago, announced its intent to undertake a ten-year program of school reform.  Basically to encourage the kind of local and grass-root school change initiatives that are mentioned several times, both in 245 and in 699.  "A Decade of Change" represents our organization's principal focus and its purpose really is to help school districts do five things.  One, is to define what need to know to succeed in the 21st Century.  Second is to encourage exploration of alternative local approaches to make that vision become a reality.  Third is to provide expanded opportunities for training for new roles expected of educator, students, and community members.  Fourth is to encourage sharing of information about local successes, and then finally to assess whether any of this is making any difference.  I think there is a tremendous upsurge of interest among local educators and their communities, and these kinds of concepts.  As underscored a couple weeks ago by the 400-plus people who participated in the First Commissioner's Summit on Education, which was really devoted to these topics, and Senator Withem indicated that Frank Newman of ECS, and others, are interested in the same ...  in the same kinds of concepts.  Dr.  Newman was one of the speakers at that summit.  Our organization believes that Nebraska educators are ready now to rethink what we teach, how we teach, and, how we approach decision-making for the purposes of improving the quality of instruction for young people.  As I read 245, 1 believe it help educators answer a critical question.  As you indicated, namely, how do we tell what kind of job we're doing, other relying on ...  what we rely on today which is a relatively meaningless national wall chart of state standardized scores.  And I'd like to say that I think LB 699 also offers possibility for positive incentives for development of local action plans for school restructuring and improvement.  And I think that kind of


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 23


encouragement can speed local decision-making processes in favor of school reform.  I think those processes have begun.  I think with additional incentives like those proposed actually in both of these pieces of legislation, we can hurry the process along, and provide additional resources, as well as encouragement for local educators.  That's the extent of my comments.  I'll be happy to try to answer your questions before I leave town.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Okay.  Just to make sure everybody else on the Committee is aware, Milan is referring to 699 which we have not heard yet, but will in a few minutes.  I believe Senator Rasmussen is the main sponsor of that bill.  Are there any questions for Mr. Wall?  Milan, thank you very much.  I


MILAN WALL:  Thank you.


SENATOR WITHEM:  How many people will be testifying in support of this bill?  Anybody in opposition?  Even though it's my own bill, I think I probably need to enforce my standards, that are, when you have a lot of people supporting a bill, and not many against, kind of urge you to be as brief as you can in your remarks when you come for forward.


JIM REA:  Thank you, Senator.  My name is Jim Rea, and I'm president of the Nebraska Education Association.  And true to your wishes, I will be very brief.  I am here this afternoon in strong support of 245.  I'd like to just point out two pieces of this legislation that the practitioners are most pleased with.  First, if 245 is implemented, we believe that it will once and for all settle the question about the quality of our present system of education.  I believe it will leave no stone unturned.  It will bring, if you will, a mirror into every classroom in this state, and we are eager for that to take place because we believe that what the Commission will find on the whole will be outstanding education.  Secondly, if 245 is enacted, it's going to allow citizens of this state to decide how high of a priority they wish to make education.  And I believe until we make that decision, much change in our system will not take place.  So with that, Senator, I would be happy to answer any of the questions of the Committee.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Are there any questions?  Thank you, Jim.


JIM REA:  Thank you.


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 24


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  I'm Doug Christensen, Associate Commissioner with the Department of Education.  (EXHIBIT H, LBs 245, 699, and 707 Education Department) The last time I testified before you, I talked a little bit about the Nebraska Department of Education plan for redesigning education in Nebraska.  Made reference to it throughout, and I've excerpted a few pieces in the opening pages of this testimony.  The testimony does include three of the bills you're considering this afternoon, but I don't want that to be a condition of my leaving town, so I will deal with one at a time, if that's all right with you.  Let me preface my remarks by pointing out a few highlights of that plan so that you'll know where I'm coming from as I make this testimony.  our plan picked up where the Nebraska Futures and the New Seeds for Nebraska discussions and grass- roots kind-of-philosophy left off.  If you recall from reading that, I thought, one of the most significant findings in both of those reports and initiatives, was the understanding that something we had held as a basic belief in this state for some time, was probably not true.  That many times in Nebraska we were prone to say that our important resource in this State was agriculture, or that our most important resource in this state was Business and Industry, or the re was some other material thing.  In fact, both of those reports and both of those commissions, came to the conclusion that the most important resource in this state is people.  And that whatever we do in this state, to take care of that as a resource, to develop it, to tap it, and to make sure it's renewed, is very important.  So your efforts in education, I believe, are a very important part of the recognition, that it is the people of this state that are the most important resource.  And that's what's going to make everything else in our state, go.  The Department believes that school restructuring is an imperative, but in order to do that, we have to begin to think differently about what schools do, about the outcomes they get and about the ways we might assess or measure those kinds of thing s, and that is certainly going to take some time.  If you look toward the bottom of the first page, of the strategies that we have outlined in our plan, numbers one and two talk about all individuals needing to learn to think differently.  In be fact, we believe that restructuring in schools has to preceded by restructuring of our thoughts, our minds, if you will.  Secondly, it's going to take time for people to work through those attitudes that they have, and the current levels of their knowledge and skills in order for us to make a change.  On the second page, is probably the key statement that I think is important.  Toward the middle of that page is a paragraph that begins, and I'll just read it to you, as


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 25


you read along.  "Schools are complex organizations in a complex social structure.  Any change in our area impacts every connection within that school structure, and every connection within the society as a whole.  Therefore, schools cannot be reformed piecemeal, they must be restructured from top to bottom, and they must indeed be restructured from State House to school house.  The restructuring commission is a big piece of that total restructuring effort that puts a partnership with people in the State House, with the Department, with people in the local schools, with the professional organizations, and with higher ed." And that's a very important piece.  If you look at our belief statements on page 3, our number 8, we've identified basically that nine things have to happen in this state, and the very last one is Accountability for Efforts and Results.  It's not last because it's least important, it last simply because we think there are efforts that have to take place in this state before you can draw that bottom line, and we believe the Commission concept, taking a period of time to work through that concept and to design plan will allow the eight things preceding it to occur, and begin to happen, so that the bottom line does not narrow our focus, it's supports the focus that we have.  On the next page is a text of my comments about this particular bill, LB 245, and I won't read all of those to you.  But in the second paragraph, what the educational accountability system has to focus on is learning outcomes.  That's the key question in schools.  What should students learn and how do they best learn, and really no other question makes any difference until we can answer that question effectively.  Just as business has tried to implement the concept of statistical product control, using the concepts of Demming (phonetic) and others who have enlightened them as to how do you build in quality from the start, so you can turn around the idea that it has to come from the top down.  Or that you can supervise in quality, that if you put data in the hands of people making the decision, the quality can be built in in the first place, and that is always cost-effective, as opposed to trying to fix it at the end.  We believe that the Commission is a good concept being patterned after a very successful Commission that resulted in 1059.  We think a public debate and discussion of those topics, relative to accountability will allow us to mature in our thinking, and deal with the public issues to which all of this is going to be connected.  I think some of the things that we need to make sure we keep in mind when we talk about accountability.  One, there are no right answers, and there are no perfect plans, The best approach for Nebraska is one that we define that fits us in this state, that fits the school districts,


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 26


that fits the needs of the Legislature, that fits the needs of all of us.  Second, in the absence of a right answer, our best plan, we have to make sure that we do no harm.  That we don't put something in place that we really can't live with, or that we wish wouldn't have been there.  Third, in the absence of a perfect plan, we have to let the best arguments prevail in a public forum for allowing that to happen is the best way.  And, fourth, we have to be willing to live with the questions, and struggle with those questions because the answer to what is best for our state does lie in dealing with that.  We can't wait forever for the best or the perfect plan to be developed, and I think we have develop and adopt a strategy that's ready, fire, and aim, to some extent, and I think the Commission will allow us to do that.  But I think the most important thing about this Commission, it will allow something that to work in Nebraska that really almost always does work.  Grass-roots developmental schemes when fostered by the state always seem to work, and always seem to get support.  The Department of Education supports the Commission concept, and the concept of implementing a professional level of accountability, our high performance learning model is accountability-based, and we are ready to assist on the development of that plan.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Thank you, Doug.  Are there any questions?  Senator Lamb.


SENATOR LAMB:.  Senator Withem mentioned that primarily he's looking at reallocation of resources .  I note number 6, on your last page, you mentioned determined resources required for implementation and develop plans for resource allocation.  Is it your thinking at this point that there would need to be more funds, or can resources just be reallocated to result in greater efficiencies?


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  You weren't supposed to read everything that was in there, Senator Lamb.


SENATOR LAMB:  I got down to bottom of the page, and that struck a cord there.


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  Well, I think there's a couple of things.  You won't know the answer to that until you have the plan.  For example, depending on what that plan may be, you have to realize that a lot of school districts spend a significant amount of money in the current testing program.  And if those dollars could be reallocated to something different, there would be some funds to support that.  To say that it won't ...  as long as it requires a report to the


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 27


state in some way, there will be funds that will be required probably above and beyond, but I don't know that they would necessarily be excessive.  I think once you have an accountability system that says these are the outcomes we want, I think school districts will have the ability to key the resources to those outcomes, instead of trying to be everything to everybody.  And I think that's a problem in this state.


SENATOR LAMB:  Thank you.




SENATOR WITHEM:  Senator Warner.


SENATOR WARNER:  I guess Senator Lamb was pursuing the same thought that I had, but every time I think of these studies, and I think Senator Lamb mentioned 994, and I think within three years after its passage, it was never funded at $10 million.  But the only thing I can recall that was left was twenty-some thousand for something-or-another, I can't remember what it was.  It seems to me that the tendency to...there's nobody, one can say this is a bad idea.  But there's a tendency that we pile one on top of another, an accumulation of good ideas that we rush in and pass, and it lasts only until another new idea comes along in a session or two, and then we do another one.  There ought to be some way, you know, I'm tempted to say, no new money will be spent, ahh ...  and what can we do to restructure of more...  if we have more effective use of current dollars.  And then if we find that's impossible, then we start to look at additional funds.  But I have a concern that when I think back that the opposite is more apt to occur, and there will be a need ...  we really won't make any old changes, but we will add for something new, and then we really haven't done what everybody says they wanted done, which is the revised system we've added on again.  And is there any way, or what you have written here, is there something that suggests that we really looking at the system, or opposed to adding on -here a way to do it?  to something that we have.  Or is there


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  I'm not sure.  I think the answer to that question again lies in how serious we are.  If the Legislature is serious about the issue of accountability, if the process of deregulating schools can begin at the State House, proceed to the Department, can proceed to the local schools, we might find out that lots.  of funds are freed-up reed-up.  one of the objectives that we're pursuing throughout this year, and is a priority is to make sure that we are not


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 28


asking more of local schools than we really need to ask of them, and what are those things that will really make a difference.  But there are certain things that we can't deregulate because they are in statute or in some type of bureaucratic control that relates the State House to the local schools through the Department.  And so I ...  you know, I don't think we can know the answer to that question, unless we get really serious about the extent to which we want to say, these are the things that will make schools be better, and we want our schools organized around those and nothing else, and stop asking schools to do everything that comes along that's a social problem.  And schools certainly are in positions to solve a lot of those problems, but if we aren't willing to restructure some of the things that we do in schools to continue adding drug education, and AIDS education, and driver education, and on and on and on, we find out that one of the problems we have is we don't teach as much math as we used to, and we don't teach as much science, so I guess I'm answering the question, yes, there's a way to do that, depends on how seriously we want to be on all of those levels.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Let me ask this question, and if I'd pause and think about it, I probably wouldn't ask.  So I'm just going to blurt it out instead.  Couple of days ...  couple of weeks ago, we had a bill in here that, I forget what the number is this year.  I think it was 714 last year...




SENATOR WITHEM:  (LB) 116, dealing with health education.  And on one hand we're talking about restructuring, and on the other hand the same, your Department, our Committee, some bunch of folks who are talking about this kind of approach are wanting ...  maybe it's not fair.  Maybe that isn't quite an add-on program, that in some ways it's a restructuring of the curriculum, but in some places it'll be treated as an add-on.  Should we not be looking at those kind of things?  Or what should we be doing?


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  Oh, I think the comprehensive health bill is an example of a restructured program that attempts to put all of that together, and so that health education versus physical education versus, you know, nutrition education and wellness, and on and on and on, aren't looked at as separate curriculums in and of themselves.  And I guess that was one of the reasons we felt the high performance learning model made some sense to us because often we treat those things as if they must be curriculums, just like math, and just like


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 29


science and social studies, when in fact for many kids health education's an equity issue.  You're an unhealthy kid, you don't have the same access to the same opportunities and outcomes in the curriculum as healthy kids do.  And so we don't need to teach every kid the same thing every year, just like we do math.  And so I think that's been helpful to us.  So, it seems to me those things are appropriate.  If we find ways to get math and science to work together in integrated ways, and the humanities approach, you know, social studies and language art seems to make some sense.  But even if we could get out, if we had an effective system of accountability where the outcomes are well-defined, then it doesn't make any difference anymore how many years of math we offer, and how many years of science.  It's how much does that school need to do with the kids that it has to get them to that level of outcomes.  And if we can do a sophisticated job of that, we will accomplish something that no state today has done.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Or in using the health model as ...  continue to use that one, we don't particularly care if the, there's a class in health education taught at Papillion, LaVista schools, and that it's taught at the same of the day, the same year, as it is at Millard.  We just expect that when kids graduate from Papillion and from Millard that they understand the same health concepts.  And we could really care less whether it was done in a single class, or done in an integration in existing curriculums, or...


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  That's right.  Senator Nelson.


SENATOR NELSON:  Doug, this may be off just a little bit, but it's all in securing an education.  We tend to somewhat shorten our school year, or our days, and that's not necessarily true of other countries that seem to be providing a much better education system than we do.  Then when we come to discuss financing of schools, and so on, it's always, well, you have three months off, and maybe they do and maybe they don't, and so on.  I am almost convinced that we've put enough dollars in education.  We need to reallocate the dollars Again, as you said, things, too many social can't get arithmetic and simply writing, and school year that we have, or that we do not have.  they're expected to teach too many problems, and so on and so forth, back down to what we want reading, Should we be lengthening our and our school days?  And if the teacher that wants to get paid and earn a good living, work ten months out of the year.  Is that the better way to go?  Instead of...we're having some conflict right now by cutting the day


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 30


seven minutes, so it adds up three more days off in the year.  That isn't education to the kids to me.


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  That's a very difficult question because the answer to that's again another of those "maybe's".  I think the first step is to make effective use of the time we now have.  And the translation of 186-hour days into a 1,080 hours probably did more harm to the sequence of the structure in this state than anything else that we did.  Yet it was there to accommodate a group of schools for whom 180 days of instruction was a real hardship.  I think we will come at some point in time to the 200-day school year, but not until we've made better use of what we now have, looking at what things can we eliminate from the curriculum at this point in time, so that we have more quality time, or engaged time in the areas of math, and science, and language arts, and social studies, so we get that higher levels of performance learning that we want.  Then we can make a decision as to do we need more sequence days of instruction which may or may not be more hours in the day, but more days, so you get the repetition that's necessary.  Absent appropriate curriculum, I mean, repetition is the key to mastery, but it's also the key to boredom.  And we don't want them repeating things that they don't need to know.  So, I think we have to again look at how are using the time we have now.  What is the essential ;curriculum that we must teach in our schools relative to those outcomes, and then make the sequence of instruction fit, regardless of whether that's days or hours, or whatever it may be.


,SENATOR NELSON:  Of course to some the offering of a soccer course may be essential; to some one else, a little more math may be essential.  So I suppose it's a meeting of the minds.  And don't you dare cut the soccer course because that's very important to me.


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  (Laughter) I think that's it, you know, an issue in this state, but it also brings up the question, if you have your outcomes clearly defined, why do you need a school year at all?  One school gets it in 150 days, and Papillion gets it in 250 days because the kids are slower there ...  (Laughter) ...


SENATOR WITHEM:  superintendent.


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  tell ...  It has no-thing to do with the That's supposed to be humorous, but I can


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 31


SENATOR WITHEM:  I want that pointed out.


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  I can tell it wasn't, so...  Yes.


SENATOR SCHROCK:  Mr. Christensen, I've served on a few committees, and I don't know if this is a good observation or not, but I sometimes wonder.  Fourteen seems like a rather large number, and sometimes you get too many people, it seems like they lose their sense of purpose.  Is that a problem with you, or...?  Maybe I should direct this to the introducer of the bill.  Could we reduce that, or...  ?


SENATOR WITHEM:  Oh, I'm sure we could.  I think we'd have to be sensitive to who we'd...  One of the things you end up doing when you draft a bill like this is, you think well, this group needs to be represented, that group needs to be represented.  I was looking at the Safety Council here before, a 21-member group, that everybody with a conceivable interest in safety has added to that.  It probably could be.  Although fourteen, I don't think is an unwieldy number either that committees I worked with over the last few years have had about that, about that number make-up.


SENATOR SCHROCK:  We seem to have trouble getting eight of us together.  There are times when we...have trouble with an Executive Session.


SENATOR WARNER:  I think Ed had a point.  I'm on a committee of forty-nine, and it gets (inaudible) ...  at time.


SENATOR WITHEM:  You need to speak to your...  claim the Chair of that committee, and then you'll see how well it works.


SENATOR SCHROCK:  I bet we didn't give Doug a chance to respond.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Yeah, do you want to respond?


DOUG CHRISTENSEN:  Well, I think it depends on how the committee operates.  I'm sure there were times that the 1059 Commission seemed like a large number of people.  But at other times when you broke into smaller groups to work on particular issues, you found the manpower helpful.  it depends on the extent to which you intend to operate as a committee as a whole all.  the time, or smaller task groups, and you know, so it really depends I guess on how you're going to operate.  If you'd stay at the policy level, I think you can have as many as you want.  If you try to get


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 32


into the intricacies of how this might work, then I think your fourteen gets really unwieldy because everybody's going to have a different idea as to how.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Okay.  Thank you, Doug.  Any other questions?  Appreciate it.


JUNE REMINGTON:  Senator Withem, Members of the Committee, my name is June Remington.  I represent the Nebraska Council of School Administrators.  We offer our support for LB 245.  We, too, are interested in the accountability issues.  Several months ago our superintendent's association at a meeting in November got together and decided that accountability was a serious issue, and they wanted to study that, and to offer their own thoughts and potential plans to achieve accountability.  That Commission has been operating under the guidance of Rick Black, who is the current superintendent at Conestoga.  I offer the services of the NASA Accountability Committee to this commission as it is developed.  Relative to Senator Schrock's question, I approach you and suggest that not only is 14 not enough.  it doesn't contain enough educators.  That doesn't surprise Senator Schrock.  Three professional 'educators are in a group of 14 people who will be looking at accountability in Nebraska schools, does not to our association, seem an adequate number to be represented--someone from the Department of Education, an administrator, and a teacher.  The others are not educators per se.  I fall back on the reference that Dr.  Christensen made to LB 1059.  Even in the 1059 Commission, there was a greater representation of educators for whom the plan was being developed, and who would be responsible for implementation.  As we look at LB 245, we are pleased to see that the structure is similar to 1059.  We believe that that worked well, and we would urge you to send this to General File.  I'll answer questions if there are any.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Are there any questions for June?  I think you raised an interesting point that the Committee will need to decide regarding the make-up of the Commission.  It was drafted in such a way to have educators, non-educator representation.  There's no magic solution to that problem either, and the committee's going to have to make the determination.  I'd point out you used the 1059 Commission as an analogy that was primarily ...  I think we had the question up in Papillion where some speaker asked, there need to be more citizens on the Commission.  And I asked the educators on the committee if any of them were not citizens.  And they all were citizens, so that worked okay.  But in the


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 33


Higher Education Commission, I don't think we had anybody on that Commission that was a representative of higher education.  And that also worked, effectively, because it probably didn't have a lot of people from higher education.  So, thank you for raising the point.






DEANNA FRISK:  Senator Withem, Members of the Committee, speaking for the League of Women Voters of Nebraska.  I have a general statement of support here that you all will be receiving in a minute.  (EXHIBIT I, LB 245 Education Committee) And that's all I want to say.  The League supports this concept, and we think it's very important and hope you will advance the bill.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Any questions?  Thank you, Deanna.




LARRY HAMAN:  Senators, my name is Larry Haman, I'm here today, representing the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and obviously we're here to support the bill.  I guess it's very difficult for me to tell you just how strongly we support this bill, without seeming flowery or perhaps even insincere.  As you are probably all aware, we went through a study this summer at the Chamber of Commerce, and this bill satisfies approximately four of eight of the recommendations we came up with.  More importantly, it satisfies the first four.  It provides the guidance system which will dictate how the other particular recommendations will come off.  it shows a great deal of patience, and I'm very supportive of the fact that it's taken the time.  That patience to me is representative of an understanding of the severity of the issues which are before us.  Listening to your questions here today, though, I think there are some things that are important.  First of all, I think we're trying to satisfy what the outcome of this Commission would be before the Commission has actually done it's work.  I think it's very important for this Commission to be very broad in its parameters for it to pursue core subjects, or to stay focused without becoming a micro-management system, so that it can provide some local control, and yet provide guidance in terms of where the state wants to have its children educated.  We are very supportive, I think of strengthening the Department of Education.  The trouble is, is until this Commission has done its work, it's very difficult to know


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 34


how that Department might be strengthened, or what its purpose would be into the future.  I'll try not to reiterate a lot of what's been said previously, but we strongly believe this group is a communication process.  It does not have a great deal of many educators on it, but I view it as a user group, if you will.  A group of people who are using the output of the system as opposed to people necessarily trying to fix the system itself.  And if we can have that type of output measurement, then we can have some input as business people, without actually telling teachers how to teach, or becoming micro-managers of the system ourselves.  We are supportive.  I will try to answer your questions, if you like, and in brevity, I'll cut my comments there.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Senator Nelson, I believe, has a question.


SENATOR NELSON:  I have to almost say this with tongue in cheek, and apologize, but I've had a little problem with the business community, not realizing that they too need to work with educators, and come up with a system that I realize where you're coming from, and I realize you need better results.  I couldn't support that more than 100 percent.  But again, maybe want to compliment you, and maybe as I said tongue in cheek that you're coming here from the Omaha business community, and now realizing that you too must participate in the discussions on education, and where do we go from here, and I welcome your input.


LARRY HAMAN:  Well, Senator, I think it's been very easy for a lot of business people to look at the educational system and say that I'm not trained as an educator, therefore, I can't contribute; or, I don't wish to tell them how to teach.  I think the output approach though, which is somewhat revolutionary, gives us the ability to tell you what our outputs need to be, and in that we can participate.  And in that we need to participate, not just for the educational system or the State, but for our own business concerns.


SENATOR NELSON:  You also need to participate in reallocation of those dollars.  In other words, it takes ...  it maybe takes financing for education, and it takes financing for the bottom corporate dollar.  And sometimes they don't ...  they're not the same match.


LARRY HAMAN:  That's very true, but I think everyone is mentioning this bill's an accountability bill.  I think when you look at the system, you'll find there's really quite a bit of accountability.  The problem is there's not


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 35


comparability of that which is being accounted for, and most of these dollars can be achieved by being reallocated, if you will, to find out where the problems are.  Once you have the data and the guidances to where the dollars need to be spent, and what will be accomplished by spending those dollars, I think you'll find all taxpayers, not just businesses, are much more willing to spend the money.




SENATOR WITHEM:  Any other questions?  Just one follow-up on a comment you made, you mentioned accountability, that we do have a lot of accountability, and then you went on from there.  I'd like to go just another little direction with that.  What we hold schools accountable for now aren't necessarily those things that directly result in student achievement, like I mentioned the number of library books.


LARRY HAMAN:  Umm humm.  Inputs.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Yeah, inputs, the number of library books, the amount of space--all of those kinds of things.  So we do have a fair amount of accountability, but it may not be stated in quite the terms that this would be stated.


LARRY HAMAN:  In our own, in OPS, there is a great deal of accountability in terms of how the various schools relate to each other.  I think if you look at the study, where it's going to go, is it's going to bring that to a statewide focus, and sooner or later it's going to have to move to a national focus, and maybe a global focus at some point in the future.  But it's certainly a step in the right direction, it's going to take a lot of time and patience to ,work it out.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Thank you, Larry.  How many more people do we have testifying on this bill?  One, two, three, four, five.  If we could try to be done three o'clock, and if we spend a lot of time on this bill, and I don't think I see a lot of other people's hands up, so, go ahead, Barry.


BARRY KENNEDY:  Senator Withem, Members of the Committee, my name is Barry Kennedy.  I'm here on behalf of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  On Thursday of last week, February the 7th, 1991, the Board of Directors of the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce and Industry unanimously endorsed the concepts of LB 245.  The Chairman of the State Chamber's Education Council and one of our staff officers were involved in the Omaha Chamber of Commerce Study that


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 36


helped develop and recommend this type of legislation that Senator Withem has introduced.  Both our Education Council and the Board of the State Chamber feels a very positive step forward toward better accountability in education.  With that, I'll yield to any questions.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Are there any questions for Mr. Kennedy?  Thank you, Barry.




RON OSWALD:  Chairman Withem, Members of the Education Committee, I'm Ron Oswald, Superintendent of the Centennial Public Schools, and this year I'm president of the Nebraska Association of School Administrators.  (EXHIBIT J, LB 245 Education Committee) Today I'm here pinch-hitting for Dr.  Rick Black, Superintendent from Conestoga Public Schools, who has chaired a task force on educational accountability in Nebraska.  He has worked with a number of other administrators, as well as Dr.  Christensen at the Department of Education.  All I want to do today is to share with you a NASA position statement that our executive committee endorsed last week.  I would like to focus on four primary areas, as far as statewide accountability process that we would like to see followed.  (1) A locally developed school improvement plan with specific goals and objectives; (2) an annual reporting of progress on the plans within the local community, and formal progress reports to the state as part of the school accreditation process; (3) state standards for high performance learning emerging from the experience with local plans, and lastly; (4) a comprehensive system of statewide assessment, based on periodic sampling of student progress using a wide variety of measures to determine the overall status of educational quality within Nebraska.  Any questions?


SENATOR WITHEM:  Thank you, Ron.  Are there any questions?  Senator Warner.


SENATOR WARNER:  Do you think there's really a way to do this?


RON OSWALD:  Pardon? 


SENATOR WARNER:  Do you think there's really a way to do this?


RON OSWALD:  I think the process that you're right now, LB 245, is a good way to address it.  discussing


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 37


SENATOR WARNER:  I'm not arguing the process.  I'm asking if there's really a way to come to a conclusion?  I hear great optimism.


RON OSWALD:  Yeah.  I'd like to believe there is.  Like Dr.  Christensen said, I don't think there's a right answer, you know.  No one can say here is the solution.  But I think the process we're looking at, gives us a chance to do a better job of measuring learner outcomes than we've ever seen before.


SENATOR WITHEM:  If he'd have said yes, would you have believed him?  That's another...Next question please.


RON OSWALD:  (Laughter)


SENATOR WITHEM:  Senator Nelson.


SENATOR NELSON:  What...  are you in support, or nonsupport, or maybe in between on testing, student testing?  In other words, to measure the outcome, and I know we don't measure one school against the other or student, but in other words, when I went to school, I got tested.


RON OSWALD:  I am for testing.  At the same time, I think that's only one means of accountability of evaluating student progress.




RON OSWALD:  Umm humm.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Thank you, Ron.


RON OSWALD:  Umm humm.


SENATOR WITHEM:  We have six minutes left, and three testifiers, I think, so...


DALE SIEFKES:  Senator Withem, and Members of the Education Committee, my name is...


SENATOR WITHEM:  Two minutes per person.  How does that sound?


DALE SIEFKES:  Senator Withem, and Members of the Education Committee, my name is...


Committee on Education

February 11, 1991

Page 38


SENATOR WITHEM:  Two minutes per person.  How does that sound for quick mathematics?


DALE SIEFKES:  Okay, I'll be very brief.  Thank you.  My name is Dale Siefkes, representing the Nebraska Association of School Boards.  Just want to be on record indicating that the Association of School Boards has a number of position statements that relate directly to the issues you're discussing today, particularly accountability, and achievement of improvement.  We specifically addressed a resolution just a couple of weeks ago that indicate d specifically that we wanted to be in full support of a Commission that's being established that would provide involvement of all interested representatives to conduct the kind of program of school improvement that is proposed in 245.  We believe it's a step in the right direction to make the progress that we're all looking for.  And with that I'll just close.  There's a lot of other things that's been said that I can just ditto.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Thank you, Dale.  Are there any questions?  Thank you very much.


RON WITT:  Senator Withem, and Members of the Education Committee, I'm Ron Witt, Superintendent of the Millard Public Schools, and I'm here on behalf of the Millard Public Schools to support LB 245.  I've long believed that, or felt that educators needed to take the lead in making schools more accountable, and I think this LB 245 will allow us to work in partnership with the business community.  I do have one suggestion for you.  I do think you need to broaden out that committee just a little bit.  I think that maybe three educators on the committee of fourteen may not be enough.  I'm not asking that there be equal number, but it could be expanded just a little bit, but the Millard Schools are in support of LB 245.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Thank you, Ron.  Are there questions?  Larry.  Will there be any additional testifiers after Larry?  Go right ahead.


LARRY RUTH:  Larry Ruth, representing the Nebraska Rural Community Schools Association.  We, too.


SENATOR WITHEM:  Very good.  Now I challenge any other organization to have briefer testimony.  Five letters in that testimony.  That's very good.  Are there any questions of Mr. Ruth?  Probing into the nature of his comments.  Let me ask one more time, are there any additional proponents?