Debate Transcripts

LB 1228 (1998)

Select File

March 18, 1998

 

SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Wesely amendment is adopted.  Items for the record, Mr. Clerk?

 

CLERK:  Thank you, Mr. President.  I have a motion from Senator Brashear regarding placing LB 1099 on General File notwithstanding the action; Senator Landis, amendments to 1162; Senator Coordsen, 924; Senator Chambers to 1099; and Senator Bohlke to 1228.  Attorney GeneralÕs Opinion to Senator Dierks (re:  LB 953).  New resolution by Senator Chris Peterson, 340 (read brief summary).  (See pages 1115-20 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

Mr. President, the next amendment I have to the bill by Senator Beutler.  (AM)3678, Senator.  (AM3678 is found on pages 1111-12 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  Senator Beutler, youÕre recognized to open.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Mr. Speaker, members of the Legislature, this an amendment that deals with a problem that has been a continuing problem with this kind of program and that is basically letting people know that the program exists.  And so what the amendment says is that each school district annually, when they pass out their written materials, will pass out a pamphlet provided by Human Services indicating that this program is available to students who qualify for the program and, likewise, each hospital, when a child is born, is obligated to give the parents a pamphlet, again provided by the department, indicating that the service is available under certain conditions.  And then thereÕs some more language in the amendment that encourages the department to get information out as broadly as they can within their administrative limitations so that program awareness is out there in the public.  I sat down and I met with the Board of School Administrators, with NSEA, with the School Boards Association, with the Hospital Association.  All are comfortable with this.  It doesnÕt ...  itÕs not going to be any additional cost to the schools because they already send out packets to students at the beginning of every year, likewise the hospital has a packet they give to parents for each ...  with each newborn.  And all of the materials, they donÕt have to prepare anything.  All of the materials have to be prepared by the department.  If theyÕre not there, they donÕt

 

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churches and abolish the state, you have utter confusion and warfare.  It is the existence of the state that keeps the churches from going to war.  All they do now is split off and set up their own little bailiwicks and call each other bad names and send each other to hell.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR CHAMBERS:  Churches, there wouldnÕt be neatly as much fun in the world if there were not all these churches nor as much confusion either.  But I hope that we do not vote to advance this bill.  And when the vote is taken, IÕm going to ask for a machine vote.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Chambers.  Seeing no further lights, the question before the body is the advancement of LR 45CA; Senator Chambers has requested a machine vote.  All, those in favor vote aye, all those opposed vote Ônay.  Have You all voted?  Senator Wickersham.

 

SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Could we have a record vote, please.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Please record.  Senator Wickersham requested a record vote.

 

CLERK:  (Read record vote as found on page 1130 of the Legislative Journal.) 28 ayes, 9 nays, Madam President.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  LR 45CA advances.  Items for the record.

 

CLERK:  Your Committee on Education reports LB 50 to General File with amendments; Health and Human Services LB 1095 to General File with amendments; Senator Wickersham, amendments to LB 1120A; Senator Crosby, LB 1070; Senator Crosby LB 1162; Senator Hillman, LB 924A; Senator Hillman to LB 924.  ThatÕs all that I have, Madam President.  (See pages 1130-34 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Mr. Clerk.  We will now proceed to LB 1228.

 

CLERK:  Senator Bruning, E & R amendments, first of all,

 

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Senator.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Chair recognizes Senator Bruning.

 

SENATOR BRUNING:  Madam President, I move we adopt the E & R amendments for LB 1228.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke, you have your light on, do you wish to speak to the E & R amendments?  Is there any discussion?  Seeing none, the question before you is the adoption of the E & R amendments to LB 1228.  All those in favor say aye.  All those opposed nay.  The E & R amendments are adopted.

 

CLERK:  Senator Witek has AM3509 pending.  (Found on page 988 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Chair recognizes Senator Witek to open on her amendment.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  Thank you, Madam Chairman and members of the Legislature.  What this amendment would do is put in my bill, 1189, into the primary classifications for 1228, and what 1189 had to do with was to require that the individual education plan for a blind student be asked to consider the teaching of Braille for that student.  ItÕs an issue thatÕs been in the Legislature for at least probably the last eight or nine years, and every year the Education Department has promised that it will be put into rules and regulations.  ItÕs language thatÕs already passed the federal ...  at the federal level through the IDEA legislation for the schools, but, for some reason, there is some problem with some schools complying with this rule, and it is not a rule written into the state of Nebraska as of yet.  WeÕve not had it.  Every year this has come in as a piece of legislation.  The Education Department has promised that they are going to write it into the rules, and whatÕs happened again this year is we received Rule 51 and itÕs stamped all over it ÒWorking DraftÓ and theyÕve assured us again that it will be adopted in April or soon thereafter.  But the track record has been that each time this is all ...  this has occurred, the rule has not gone into the rules here In the state of Nebraska.  So we are asking to ensure that instead of waiting for another year for this to go through as a rule in Nebraska that we would like to have this piece of

 

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legislation adopted to 1228.  And since 1228 is not a mandate bill, this provides a way for schools to comply with the teaching of Braille for blind students and not having to mandate it because I think that was probably what stopped the legislation year after year in the Education Committee was that they considered it a mandate.  They didnÕt want to mandate it.  They were promised by the Department of Education that it would be in rules.  It has never been in the rules, in the state rules.  ItÕs passed at the federal level, just never written into the state rules.  So I would ask you to adopt this amendment, which is, essentially, the exact same language thatÕs in 1189.  And some of the reasons that the blind community has come to not just me but other senators over the years, this is the first year IÕm carrying this piece of legislation, has been because 90 percent of all the working blind read Braille, and 70 percent of the working age blind are unemployed, because over the last few years, a lot of the schools have moved away from teaching Braille to blind students.  This would ...  would secure Braille instruction I s forÕ those students who itÕs recommended through their individual plans that they have Braille instructions.  They are still working with the parents of that student.  They are still working with the people within the schools of that student to recommend this in their individual education plans, but it is a higher likelihood that they would be teaching Braille to those blind students.  And I know a lot of people on the Education Committee, who have sat through many a hearing on this issue, can attest to the fact that blind individuals have come forward who are working, who have gone through college, and tell us time and time again that they must have Braille in order to get ...  get through their jobs, through their education, through their daily lives.  It makes complete sense to me because what has happened since weÕve pared back so much on teaching Braille has been Illiteracy has risen dramatically within the blind community.  And if youÕre talking about trying to get people employed, trying to get people who are working, get them out and working, this is a skill that they need to have to be able to do that.  And this is one way that we can ensure that schools who want to be eligible for this lottery money, and who are otherwise complying with the other areas of the primary tier here, that they go ahead and implement this ...  this legislation since itÕs not a rule yet.  And I didnÕt want to wait another year with the education, Department of

 

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Education telling us but weÕre going to put into a rule, and another year go by where it hasnÕt been put into a rule because itÕs pretty consistently not been put into the rules.  And every year theyÕve told us itÕs going to be put into the rules.  So instead of waiting for them another year, and seeing that it hasnÕt happened for another year, I thought that, and then having the objections of the committee telling me that it was a mandate, to put this into this mechanism because it is not a mandate mechanism.  It is something that is still voluntary to comply to be eligible for the lottery money, and I think it would get some of those schools who are not offering Braille, are not teaching in Braille, for one reason or another, to take a second look at making sure that blind students who have it in their individual plan that they need Braille, that their parents want them to be taught Braille, that they are taught Braille.  And I would appreciate as well as a lot of individuals who have spent many, many years in this Legislature talking to senators, talking to.  the Education Committee, trying to get this legislation passed.  I YouÕre not passing anything that hasnÕt been passed at the federal level.  It is the exact same language thatÕs already passed.  ItÕs supposed to be a requirement in our schools, but for some reason, our Department of Education has not put it into rules and regulations, and our Education Committee has not brought the bill out to the floor of the Legislature in previous years.  So I think this would be the perfect place for this kind of request for Braille instruction, and I would hope that you would vote to pass this amendment.  Thank you.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Witek.  Senator Bohlke.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Madam President and members.  I know a number of you had an opportunity to visit with people representing the visually blind yesterday, or visually impaired, I am sorry, and it is an issue that we have heard in the Education Committee.  But I would like to put forward some facts for you to clarify any of the confusion that you may have.  The reason the Department of Education has not implemented the rules and regs is because the feds have Just finished the IDEA funds.  The rules and regs are coming.  If they would have gone ahead this past year and had done the rules and regs, very likely they would just be about redoing them very soon.  That causes

 

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probably more confusion to people than anything else.  Secondly, the...  it is a mandate.  Nothing else in this bill that qualifies you for incentive payments happens to be a mandate.  This puts a mandate into it and it puts it into the primary grouping.  In order for you to qualify for Ô any other funds, it puts this mandate in.  But then let s get at another issue, and that is what many of you know is what commonly in schools is called the IEP.  That is the flexibility that schools have upon using a team evaluation as to what is the best teaching method available for that child.  The present ...  the parent is present and they then decide.  There are some parents who do not wish to have their children use Braille.  This takes that option away from those parents and mandates that they would have to.  There are new technologies coming out with computers and certainly we have audio books, large print.  There are some children who do not have the tactile skills necessary to be successful with Braille, and there are those ...  some students are partially sighted who may not need Braille.  this takes that flexibility away from schools and, therefore, takes that flexibility, I think, away and mandates what schools must offer, and does not allow that choice by parents.  One question I have if, Senator Witek, if you will yield, please.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  Senator Bohlke.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  The federal wording that we ...  that is in right now says that in the case of the child who is blind or visually impaired provide ...  you must provide for ...  you provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP team determines after an evaluation of the childÕs reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media, including an evaluation of the childÕs future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille, that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child.  That is what is in place now.  Now, and you know that when we put in rules and regs and statutes we must be very careful to follow federal, especially in the area of special education, federal wording.  You have not followed in your amendment the exact federal wording, and I am wondering why you altered the federal wording that you have in your amendment, and my ...  and also you say each district in the local system has ...  must provide.  What if...

 

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PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  there is no impaired child, visually impaired child in the district?

 

SENATOR WITEK:  Well, I think weÕd probably hit the same thing as having the high-ability learner or any of the other classifications, thatÕs...thatÕs why I donÕt consider this a mandate.  This is only to those districts who would want to provide these instructions under the provisions of this bill.  And with the language, that we have, the language thatÕs being suggested in the regulation from the Department of Education states:  In the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP team determines, after an evaluation of the childÕs reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media,,.  including an evaluation of the childÕs future needs for the instruction in Braille and the use of Braille, that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child.  Same language.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Except you used a current assessment instead of evaluation.  Why?

 

SENATOR WITEK:  I guess it was probably just a choice of words.  It would be considered the same thing.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  No.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Schimek.

 

SENATOR SCHIMEK:  Yes, thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  I have real mixed emotions on this bill because this happens to be an issue that I have been involved with for a number of years, and have introduced the bill at least twice, I canÕt remember, maybe even three times in the Education Committee.  And I strongly believe that children need to have access to Braille if they are either blind or if they have some kind of impairment that leads one to believe that they will have

 

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vision problems in the future.  SO I strongly believe in the principle behind it.  However, having said that, I also strongly believe that we have a committee system for a reason, and that committee system I didnÕt challenge either the years that I had the bill because they had some very good reasons and their own discussions for not advancing the bill.  And as I listened to Senator Bohlke on this particular issue, I think that the reasons that she gave for the Department of Education not actually putting together those rules and regs were sound and solid.  I have been informed that those federal provisions will .not be in the hands of the Department of Education until April, and so I would expect that we can see after April a formal process for adopting rules and regulations.  And I can tell you this, if those rules and regulations arenÕt forthcoming and they arenÕt put into the rules and regs, then I will very definitely be back next year, Senator Witek, as I am sure that you would as well, to see that they get put into statute.  So even though I, in principle, support the ideas behind this bill,.  I have to respect the Education CommitteeÕs feelings on this bill and their reasoning on it, and I will be watching, I will be watching to see what happens with the rules and regs.  Thank you very much.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Schimek.  Senator Lynch.

 

SENATOR LYNCH:  Madam Lieutenant Governor and members, I only rise to say that I have problems with this issue as well because the concept of schools teaching kids is really very simple.  And the reason we have a special education program is that for too many years education only wanted to teach those kids that were easy, not just teach kids, period.  That meant that special education was necessary because there were kids with special needs, in some cases, who were disabled or had learning disabilities or had some MR problems or whatever.  Just this year, we talked about just the opposite, not special education for kids with these kinds of disabilities but kids who were brilliant and bright and how we had to do something special for them.  I am not quite sure if there is an IEP team, if thatÕs what itÕs called, Senator Bohlke, that takes a look and determines who is brilliant and who isnÕt and who qualifies for the smart classes and who qualifies for the A, B, C or D class like I was in at Creighton Prep, the D, and you didnÕt have to

 

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go through any team for that.  But on the other hand, Paul Hartnett was always in A, so we know what happened there.  So I have some mixed emotions about this.  I am not quite sure what kind of rules and regulations they are going to come up with, but as far as IÕm concerned, I donÕt know if it is a mandate.  It shouldnÕt be a mandate necessarily, but I would like to think that if there is someone with a visual handicap in some ways, and one of the most important ways of communicating and being able to participate in all of the activities in our life would be able to use Braille, I think that would be pretty important, whether theyÕre taught at an early age or even at a later age.  And if, in fact, part of our concern is that kids be mainstreamed as much as possible, with or without any kind of disability or handicap, itÕs important that that school provide, if that kid is in the class with a visual...with a visually ...  visual impairment, that they are able to follow along where possible with the Braille system.  I would like to thin- k .that the schools would also be smart enough to develop some kind of a library.  In fact, we teach, generally, the same kind of courses and use the same kind of textbooks that the Braille copy of that particular document would be available, not just for that year for that particular kid in that particular district, but would be available for any of the children that might follow and could even be altered where necessary, if it were necessary to do this.  I ...  I donÕt have a lot of faith in rules and regs.  I hate to see us wait necessarily, and so even though I understand and appreciate the good work that Senator Bohlke and her committee is doing, I also appreciate the fact that Senator Witek would bring this issue before us.  And at this point in time, why I, until I see something else, generally agree that we should amend it to indicate this proposal that we have to provide for those with...with impairments, visual impairments the same opportunities for everybody else.  And I donÕt even care sometimes what the rules and regs say, whether they say we should or whether they would say we shouldnÕt.  Without them or with them is not the issue, but the opportunity for education from those school districts, large or small, big or little, rural or urban, it makes no difference.  It ought to be uniform across the state and they should have opportunities for everybody, including...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

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SENATOR LYNCH:  ...  Braille where itÕs necessary in whatever class.  So IÕve mixed emotions, I generally agree that we should do this, and I havenÕt heard why waiting for the rules and regs are important at this point in time.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Lynch.  Senator Bohlke.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Madam President and members, and, Senator Lynch, I will try to clear that up one more time of waiting for the rules and regs.  But let me say, first of all, as you know that we have dealt with this issue and, certainly, I ...  I have been very empathetic to the number of times the people who have been visually impaired have come and traveled to the Capitol and sat through hearings, and itÕs been some frustration at the federal level that this wasnÕt done, but your concerns currently can be met at the local school level for those children in the special education program through the IEP.  The difference is that as a parent, currently, if I do not want my child to have Braille, if I choose that they have a different course of instruction that the evaluation team may be supportive of my decision, as a parent, this would take that away.  This mandates that it must be Braille.  It is not just as there are some people who would argue that sign is not absolutely the only way for children who are acoustically impaired to communicate, that some children learn to speak, if they have a residual amount of hearing, and now they have implants that will actually give them that residual hearing, and that they feel that they can perform better in a hearing world by not signing and by using speech and using reading of lips and with the residual hearing they have.  That same argument is heard from some people who do not agree with those who came to the Education Committee.  So thatÕs one concern.  The other is that I feel particularly bad about is that we are about to get this done, and so we could put this out, and then weÕre going to have to come back and change it as soon as we get the federal regs.  And what we have done is we have given false hope to people and have brought them down to the Capitol one more time, have them sit through a hearing when very ...  what we do may not match up with the federal regs.  What is in law now schools are doing.  They have to, through that individual education plan, as I am sure youÕre very well aware, have to come up, what is the best for that

 

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individual I child.  What this doesnÕt allow is that individual plan for an individual child.  This puts a mandate that says, this is what the instructions shall be.  That isnÕt always the best for every child.  I think, philosophically, that is one real problem.  Realistically, the other problem is weÕre ...  we arenÕt doing anything because the rules and regs are about to be done, and so all weÕve done is ask the people to come, sit through a hearing.  It was not out of committee when we worked with the department before.  We had, from Senator Schimek, we did write letters.  We had communication with the department.  We had absolute communication saying as soon as they have the federal rules and regs they will write the state ones.  I assume they will not ...  that that will be very, very soon.  But the IEP has been the foundation for special education.  The IEP at the local district level that allows the parent and the evaluation team to decide together whatÕs best for their child.  Not the Legislature, not mandating what is, the best curriculum for every child in this state who happens to be visually impaired, that is going in a much different direction than we ever have in any special education, whether it be acoustically handicapped, physically handicapped, visually impaired.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  And so, that, to make it, to take it one step further and say now that not one school is going to qualify for any of the incentive payments unless they have this in place, and it is a mandate, not one other thing in the incentive payments, in those categories to qualify for an incentive payment is a mandate to the schools.  What weÕre trying to do with this bill is to give flexibility to the local schools and say we recognize you are doing good things.  We are not mandating to you that you must, in order to qualify for this incentive, have this program in place.  That goes counter to the philosophy of the bill.  And those are the reasons I hope that I can explain to you, and I know how sensitive you are to the special education and you know how that works, and you know how those IEPs work, but to give false hope to a group of people and feel that they have a victory when, in fact, I think they do not I think is a real disservice to the visually impaired community...

 

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PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...and I remain opposed.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Senator Brashear announces that the following guests are visiting the Legislature.  There are 40 sixth through twelfth graders here from Boys Town High School in Boys Town, Nebraska, and their teachers.  (Introduces teachers.) Will you all stand to be recognized please.  Welcome to the Nebraska Legislature.  Senator Suttle.

 

SENATOR SUTTLE:  Thank you, Madam President.  I would really, really, really like to support this amendment.  I think that the words in this amendment are used...  are in the IDEA bill on the federal level.  The thing that attracts me to this is because I have great sympathy for those folks who think that Braille is important, and over and above that, they think-that literacy is important.  And they want all blind people to be able to read and make a living, and I know that Senator Witek mentioned the ...  the high rate of unemployment.  Well, if you canÕt read, you canÕt be employed in this day and age.  And I wish we hadnÕt...  I wish Senator Witek had not put this on the bill as part of the initial requirement that all schools must have this, and this requirement being that they couldnÕt qualify unless they did have this in place.  I do believe that the federal government will get rules and regs in and I ...  I truly wish that the committee could have put this out as a message to the visually impaired community that this was an important issue for us, as well, because it is.  I donÕt think thereÕs one person on that committee that doesnÕt feel total and complete empathy and sympathy for these folks when in their frustration of getting this on the agenda.  I ...  I understand completely how they feel, and I think Braille is an important aspect of their education and should be offered.  I ...  I would like to vote for this.  I told Senator Witek that I would support it, and I didnÕt realize that she was going to put it as a prerequirement to qualify on the base of initial qualifying issue of this or I could have.  IÕm hoping that that federal government will ...  will be quick in their implementation of the rules and regs of IDEA so that this group can get past their frustration and start teaching the visually impaired student the necessary tools to be employable

 

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and have work and be contributing citizens to the state of Nebraska.  Thank you, Madam President.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Suttle.  Senator Witek.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  Thank you, Madam Chairman and members of the Legislature.  I wanted to clear up some of the misconceptions that some of you may have after listening to Senator ...  Senator BohlkeÕs answers.  If you look at 1228, this simply says that if you have these provisions in your school, that then youÕre eligible for the lottery money.  So this is absolutely not a mandate.  This is no more mandated than any of the other provisions in the primary tier for this piece of legislation.  I am not saying you have to have this in your school.  This is not a state mandate.  IÕm saying if you have it in your school, you are now eligible for those lottery monies.  This is the mechanism that I leave completely unchanged in 1228.  And if you look at the language in my amendment, it says that the IEP, or the individual instruction plan, each district in the local system has provided an IEP for blind and visually impaired children that provides for the instruction of Braille and the use of Braille unless the individualized education plan team determines, after an evaluation of the childÕs reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media, that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child.  And the parents are involved in that...  in that whole process.  So this certainly does not, if the parents are opposed, I am sure the IEP would not say that weÕre going to go over the heads of the parents and force this on anybody.  ItÕs never been done in my knowledge of an IEP, if the parent says donÕt do this with the child, that the school turns right around and does it.  I canÕt imagine a school that would be directly in opposition to what the parents have asked for.  ItÕs never happened.  And then it also says that the evaluation should include a current assessment of the blind or visually impaired childÕs future needs for the instruction, which makes perfect sense, because if someone is, visually impaired and may be in the process of going on towards blindness, teaching them Braille at that point in time is much easier than after theyÕve already lost all of their sight.  And if youÕre talking about the sophisticated technology that we now have that will allow blind people to function at every moment of

 

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their life, thatÕs absolutely not true.  And one of the examples that I gave at the hearing was, if you came to this Capitol, went to the center and asked where a senatorÕs office was, and they told you Senator Witek is in 1021, youÕd walk down the hallway, and youÕd look for the number 1021 and youÕd know that was my office.  If a blind individual went to the center and they said 1021, they would walk down the hallway and they would feel for those Braille plates that we each have outside of our offices and they also would be able to find that office on their own.  This is about independence.  This isnÕt about having to rely on a computer at every moment of your life.  itÕs impossible.  How would a computer tell you where my office was?  ItÕs about having an extra skill as a blind individual to be able to be independent, as all of us want to be.  When youÕre ill or youÕre at some point in your life where youÕre having to depend on other people, how much do you like that?  I know I am not a very good patient when IÕm ill.  I donÕt like having to depend on other people.  I am very independent, and if I was blind, I would do.  everything I could to make myself as independent as I could be.  And learning Braille is something that I would hope that we could do for each of those individuals, and not in opposition to what their parents want.  If their parents are opposed, this is not going to force any parent in the state of Nebraska to make sure that their child receives Braille.  What this is is the exact same language thatÕs already in federal law.  The problem that we continue to have in this state is that our own Department of Education has not put it into the regulations for this state.  So schools that arenÕt complying donÕt have to comply because it is not a regulation.  And the Education Committee, year after year after year, has said weÕre going to wait until they put this into the rules.  And every year they show us these rules, like they did again this year as soon as the bill is introduced, that say ÒWorking DraftÓ all over it and hereÕs the language that you want in there,...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  ...  and then conveniently they say after April weÕll have this done.  Well, weÕre not going to be here after April.  So another year goes by with that same promise from the Department of Education, with that same excuse from the

 

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Education Committee, and in the meantime, the illiteracy rate in the blind community is skyrocketing.  ItÕs skyrocketing because we are not offering this in every single one of our schools, and it just says that they should provide it; that this is something that they can make a determination that that child needs with the parents and that IEP team, and that they can make a determination this is what the child needs.  And itÕs an extra thing that most ...  every blind person, without exception, as far as IÕm concerned, IÕm not having anybody come to me and tell me that they donÕt want this.  Every blind person IÕve talked to or visually impaired person has said this is something we want, weÕve been fighting for for ten years, help us.  And thatÕs exactly what IÕm trying to do.  ItÕs not a mandate; 1228 is not a mandate.  I think Senator Bohlke has said that continually, so this is no more a mandate putting this into the primary class than any of the primary class or premier class requests ...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  ...  that weÕre making.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Witek.  Senator Bohlke.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Madam President and members.  I am really sorry that this is taking so long and, you know, the point that I think we need to be clear on that Senator Witek touched on, if you will look.  at every other qualifier in this bill, nothing else in 1228 is a mandate to schools.  We are now saying this is a mandate to schools.  What we read before you as a mandate, the rules and regs are coming out.  It is a mandate to schools, and so we will have put...  from the federal government, and so we will have a mandate in the primary category in order for schools to qualify.  Plain and simple.  ThereÕs ...  thereÕs no other way around it.  The Education Committee, as everyone said, has tried very hard to work with the department.  The department, quite frankly, is frustrated.  It is not as if they do not want to do this.  They do want to do this.  They do want to get this solved.  A number of people want to get this solved.  This is not the place to get this solved.  The place to get it solved is this spring when they get the rules and regs from the federal government, and then we will be able to adopt those in the state.  And as Senator Schimek said, I will be watching very

 

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 closely, IÕm sure Senator Witek will be watching very closely, if the rules and regs were not forthcoming immediately, that they would be...  something would be back next year.  Anyone who has been waiting for anything for a long time never likes to say wait a little bit longer.  ThatÕs very frustrating.  I recognize that to the people who have come to the Capitol year after year, it has been a long process and the Education Committee has tried very, very hard to work.  A number of people have spent hours and hours working with representatives of the visually impaired community.  What we have tried to do is at least be honest and forthright with them in saying this is the time line, this is how it will be accomplished.  To push ...  put this in this bill now, it is not the appropriate place.  Even if you agree and support Senator Witek and would think you would want to do it, it is not the proper place to put this in the primary category in order for schools to qualify for the incentive payments.  It is not the place to put this bill.  So I know that when you visit with the, people, I have done that.  I have spent many, many hours.  As you know, my background is special education.  I am certainly empathetic, but this does not belong on this his bill at this time, and I have been assured that as soon as those...  in fact, members of the Department of Education just returned from Washington.  Those rules and regs will be coming this spring, and the department will then get them written.  I canÕt say anything other than that.  ThatÕs the time line.  ThatÕs the way it should work.  It has been frustrating.  Senator Schimek has been frustrated.  IÕve been frustrated.  We have written the department a number of times.  The department is now frustrated.  But out of frustration, we shouldnÕt adopt something on the floor that hasnÕt come out of committee, that doesnÕt belong on this particular bill just in order to I think give, as I said, a false victory to a group of people, and then we can look like good guys.  ThatÕs not what weÕre here for.  Sometimes I think that we need to be very honest with people.  IÕve tried to do that with the people from the visually impaired community to say it will get done.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  To do it in this manner does not accomplish what you would hope to accomplish and to absolutely say that schools must have this, and then as I restate on that individual

 

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education plan, to take that flexibility away from schools, but even more importantly, away from the parents I think is a real mistake.  Generally, I think as Senator Witek said that most people would choose Braille for the mode of learning for their visually impaired children, but there are times and new technologies that are coming forward that can help children, and especially those children who have great difficulty learning that tactile skill of learning Braille.  There are other ways now to make them successful in the classroom and successful in life.  If we do this, we do not give them that flexibility and that opportunity for that kind of an education.  I think that that probably is the...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  more serious discussion and ramification of this particular amendment, and I remain opposed.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Seeing no further lights, Senator Witek, to close.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  Thank you, Madam Chairman, members of the Legislature.  This isnÕt frustrating to keep these people on hold for ten years, this is cruel.  Anybody out there who has a child in the schools that are not able to get Braille have been waiting for years.  Why have we been waiting for the federal government?  Why are we waiting for some rule and reg to come down from the federal government to force schools to do this?  Why didnÕt we have a proactive Education Committee to go ahead and make sure that this was something that was available to all the blind children in the state of Nebraska?  And for the last ten years those children who have gone from one grade to the next to the next to the next without this will be part of those adults who are illiterate in the blind community.  And 90 percent of the blind individuals who have Braille are employed, and 70 percent of the blind community is unemployed, and weÕve let this go on year after year saying weÕre going to wait for the federal government, weÕre going to wait until the Department of Education puts this into rule and regulations.  WeÕre going to make you wait.  And then weÕre saying weÕre sorry youÕre so frustrated; we know itÕs been difficult for you, although we donÕt have to live their daily lives every year,

 

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every day.  We donÕt have to do that.  We donÕt have to deal with that, and they do.  And I think it hasnÕt been frustrating, itÕs been cruel, and I wonÕt be a party to it, and thatÕs why I brought the bill in this year.  And to me, for the Education Committee to say we donÕt want to put it out because itÕs a mandate, we donÕt want to put it out again because weÕre waiting for the federal government, we donÕt want to put it out of committee because itÕs going to be out in a rule and regulation, and, again, weÕve heard this for years, and it hasnÕt come out.  And now IÕve got this copy now that the Department of Education sent to me thatÕs got ÒWorking DraftÓ in great big letters on it, so that it is still not a regulation or a rule in the state of Nebraska, and theyÕve used the same language.  To me, that is telling the whole community of people, we donÕt care about you.  WeÕre going to wait until the federal government tells us that this is the right thing to do.  Well, I already know this is the right thing to do.  And I think this is something that we should have done a long time ago, and IÕve watched it in the Education Committee year after year, and IÕve watched them hold it in committee.  IÕve never understood why, and I think if we do put this in 1228, and it does turn out to be a regulation that comes from IDEA that is actually in our rules and regulations from the Department of Education as a mandate to schools, then all schools will be complying and it will be just one area of the primary tier in this piece of legislation that all schools will have already complied with.  And to me thatÕs not any more of a mandate than what youÕre doing in 1228.  YouÕre saying you have to have all this in place to be eligible for the lottery funds.  Well, if we say one more thing, if you put this in place to be eligible, you arenÕt mandating it to them at this time.  And if Senator Bohlke is saying itÕs going to be a mandate from the federal government, then how could that harm being in this tier structure because it would just already being done in all the schools, and it is one more thing, just like you have in the primary structure, Millard is already doing this.  Millard is already doing gifted.  Millard is already doing the mentor program.  WeÕre already complying with all this, so we immediately become available for this money.  So it is not a mandate to the Millard system.  What this is is for the next few months, and maybe for the next year, if again the Department of Education does not put it into regulation, this says to those schools that are out there that might want to be eligible for

 

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that lottery money, hereÕs another incentive.  WeÕll ask you to put in and provide for those blind students and visually impaired students...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  ...  that the ...  that the individual education plan says needs Braille, weÕre asking you to go ahead and implement that now.  I think itÕs something that should have been done a long time ago.  I am sorry that it hasnÕt been up on the floor of the Legislature, that it has been held In the Education Committee, which is also part of the reason I brought this up here, and it is certainly not to be cruel to any community out there to talk about this issue on the floor of the Legislature.  It is a long time coming for a lot of people, and I think we should have addressed it a long time ago, but this bill seems to be perfect for this piece of legislation and I would ask you.  to support this amendment to provide Braille instructions for those students whose parents and team want them to have Braille instruction.  Thank you.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Witek.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Witek amendment to LB 1228.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?

 

SENATOR WITEK:  I would...  I would ask for a call of the house and a roll call vote, please.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  There has been a request for a call of the house.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Please record.

 

CLERK:  22 ayes, 0 nays to place the house under call.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The house is under call.  Would senators please return to their seats.  Would all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor, the house is under call.  Senators, please check in.  Senator Kristensen, Senator Schellpeper, Senator Brashear.  Excuse me, excuse me, Senator Brashear is ,excused.  Senator Bromm, Senator Raikes, Senator Cudaback, Senator Chris Peterson, Senator Robinson, Senator Matzke,.

 

13789

 

Senator Brown, Senator Chambers, Senator Stuhr, Senator Crosby, Senator Elmer, Senator Lynch.  Waiting for Senator Lynch, Senator Stuhr.  Senator Chambers, will you check in, please.  We are waiting for Senator Lynch.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Witek amendment to LB 1228.  Senator Witek requested a roll call vote.  Senator Wesely requested it in regular order.  Mr. Clerk, please proceed.

 

CLERK:  (Roll call vote taken.  See pages 1134-35 of the Legislative Journal.) 15 ayes, 14 nays on the amendment.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Witek amendment fails.  I raise the call.

 

CLERK:  Madam President, some items, if I may.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Items for the record.

 

CLERK:  New resolution by Senator Vrtiska.  (Read brief explanation of LR, .34.1.).  Senator.  Maurstad, amendments to (LB) 1073; Senator Lynch, (LB) 1010; Senator Crosby to (LB) 1191; Senator Wickersham and Senator Janssen to 1191.  (See pages 1135-37 of the Legislative Journal.) Senator Witek, I now have AM3509, Senator.  (See page 989 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Chair recognizes Senator Witek to open on her amendment.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  Thank you, Madam Chairman and members of the Legislature.  What this amendment would do is include LB 977, which is one sentence, and it says:  School districts shall include the use of explicit systematic phonics instruction with ÒdecodableÓ text as a part of the reading curriculum in kindergarten through grade two.  And it would put this also in the primary tier of 1228, and saying that districts that chose to include the use of systematic phonics in their reading programs in grades K through 2 would then be eligible for the lottery money.  I passed out to each senator an article that was in the Time magazine in October 1997, and I think any of you would agree thatÕs a pretty mainstream magazine, very, very widely read magazine, and if you turn to the second page, I

 

13790

 

underlined some of the discussion that they had written about.  It says, phonics has threatened the belief system represented by whole language, and as a result, the fight is bitter and irrational.  This is unfortunate because it has been established almost beyond doubt that early systematic phonics instruction is necessary for a large portion of beginning readers.  And if youÕll turn to the next page, it says that advocates insist that phonics is necessary but not sufficient for reading instruction.  This is advocates of whole language.  They agree with the whole language proponents that beginning readers must read real books.  The only difference is that phonics advocates believe that the very first stories must be written in a fashion that reenforces phonics lessons.  And if youÕll turn to the final page, under some of the things that IÕve outlined to read, it says that there are elements of phonics instruction that cannot be diluted.  It must be systematic and explicit if the full benefit is- to be derived from it.  To deprive children of that benefit is destructive.  And I can tell you, as a mother and an individual who has been involved in this fight for at least the last five years, that this is a very divisive issue out there and that it continues to be very divisive across the state of Nebraska.  But what I am saying is I would like to include language that just asks the schools, who want to go ahead and apply for this lottery money in 1228, that those school districts include in their reading instruction, as just one more method that they will use to teach reading, include that in K through 2.  The reason that I would like to make sure that we discuss this issue is because this is not being done consistently in classrooms across the state of Nebraska.  It is not being taught consistently in our...  in our teacherÕs colleges across the state of Nebraska, and it is something that if students, who are learning to read, have a little bit one year, none the next, a lot the next year, that itÕs very difficult for them to learn to read.  And if you get the opportunity to read through this ...  this entire article here, it will give you a really good idea of the same discussion thatÕs been going on in school boards across Nebraska and the Education Committee here in the Legislature.  Unfortunately, the phonics bill was again held in committee, and the reasons that all the members of the committee gave to me was that this was a mandate.  And so if this is a mandate in its original form, in (LB) 977, and (LB) 1228 is absolutely not a mandate, according to those

 

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individuals who are very much in favor of 1228, then putting this language into the primary tier structure and just saying for those schools that want to be eligible for the lottery money that we would ...  we would ask you to go ahead and include the use of systematic phonics instruction in these grades, then that also is not a mandate.  So that removes the argument that this is a mandate.  And I think itÕs something that we should very much be considering when we are considering a bill on quality education, because I can tell you that there are thousands of parents and probably thousands of teachers, and IÕve probably heard from many, many of them, both the parents and the teachers, who have said donÕt let up on this.  This is something that we need to have discussed in the state of Nebraska.  This is something somebody has got to do something about definitively.  Teachers who say I am now retired so I can tell you that this is exactly what needs to be done in our reading programs, parents who say, as in this article, the parent in this article, my child was not learning to read, I put them in a program that taught them phonics.  Within a very Ôshort period- ÔOf time they were learning to read, they were a good reader, and as time went on, they were a very good reader and comprehending what they were reading.  They went through tears and frustration, which a lot of parents across this state can very much empathize with, and came to the conclusion because we are not professionals, we are not teachers, and we have not gone through the schools, the universities to learn to teach our children to read, but even if we do everything that you tell us to do, and that means sitting down with our children when theyÕre young and reading to them, pointing out to them the different words in the pictures, everything that you said, and parents, like me, who spent a lot of time in the schools with my oldest child as a reading mom, sitting down with the students, teaching them how to read, listening to them read, doing everything that you said and told us to do, that itÕs still not going to be enough to make our children ...  to have our children learn to read.  Because if you donÕt have a teacher in there who has come to the conclusion that you need to include this for some of the students who are having trouble, then your child is not going to get this.  And for those children who go a year or two or three, or maybe their entire foundational years of K through 2 without learning phonics or extensively learning phonics to a systematic phonics degree, then they are not going

 

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to be good readers, and some of them arenÕt ...  arenÕt even reading very well.  In fact, if you look at the NAEP scores for the state of Nebraska, our fourth grade reading scores are going down.  And I think this is a big part of it because so many schools have switched to whole language.  I know Millard switched to whole language several years ago.  They are switching somewhat back.  They are including this more and more, but, unfortunately, my youngest was during the years when they were moving to the whole language, which is why I became so involved in this issue.  And for those of you who may have children or grandchildren in the schools, if you will just take the time to talk to people about this issue and why children are having so many problems spelling, comprehending, itÕs because weÕve moved away from a lot of what we knew worked.  And if you read through this article, it will tell you that you can teach children to read using whole language.  You can teach about 70 percent anyway of the children can learn to read no matter how you teach them.  But they will read more quickly if they are taught phonics, and without phonics the remaining 30 percent have real problems, and I think thatÕs why we have so many students now in special education.  I think thatÕs why we have so many people who canÕt spell very well at all, and I think thatÕs why weÕve moved away from a lot of the grammar in our school systems.  My children did not have very strong grammar instruction in their schools yet.  I hope we get back to that, but these are methods, the whole language method, that was very strong over the last few years and continues to be very difficult to make inroads into those individuals who are very much proponents of it.  All I am asking is to have the school districts include this in their instruction.  If a reading teacher thinks that a child is learning better in the whole language method, thatÕs fine.  But if you are part of those children, if your child is part of those children who is having problems and you donÕt have one of those teachers who have been through the kind of hit and miss instructions that you go through in our university system to teach them systematic phonics or they donÕt get any instruction in systematic phonics, which thatÕs a lot of our teachers coming out of our teacher colleges these days, then your child is going to have real problems learning how to read and spell.  So if weÕre going to talk about quality education with this bill, 1228, and weÕre going to say that because we are now providing 50 percent or

 

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more of the...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  ...  dollars for education in the state of Nebraska, that weÕre going to have more say in what goes on, and those are not my words, those are the words of Jim Griess and Doug Christensen, that if weÕre going to have more say in what goes on, then I think part of that ...  part of that say should be in this area where we are not showing any leadership whatsoever .as to what direction we think schools should take.  And if this is the bill thatÕs going to show them that these are the directions that we think you should take, then I think this should be included in the primary tier structure.  So I would ask for your help with this amendment.  Thank you.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Witek.  Senator Bohlke.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Madam President and members.  once again I am afraid I have to rise in opposition to this amendment from Senator Witek.  IÕve had an opportunity in a number...  in a number of places to talk about this whole issue of phonics versus whole language.  IÕve said that it has been an ongoing battle, and, in fact, what the truth is, and I think Senator Witek alluded to it, is that any good teacher recognizes that you need a combination of the two, that itÕs not simply phonics and itÕs not simply whole language.  And, in fact, there are some children who do better learning strictly by phonics.  But guess what?  There are some children who do better learning just by whole language.  And I know that to be true.  I think that what you need to understand is this is not just phonics.  There are some important words in this amendment that say Òexplicit systematic.Ó That is very different from what you and I may remember as phonics.  I am a speech pathologist.  We studied phonics.  ThatÕs part of my degree.  Phonics has very little to do, if anything, with spelling.  Phonics is the sounding out of words.  It is the sounding out of words, and it has nothing to do with grammar.  And so if our children have problems with grammar, itÕs certainly not due to not having phonics.  But what is very interesting is now thereÕs a battle in the phonics community, and this very group that has been struggling, that Senator Witek is talking about, whether we should use 70

 

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phonemes or 45 phonemes, and so the problem rises when we try to micromanage the curriculum in the classroom.  It is simply that.  A good reading teacher looks at any child, decides which way that it is most appropriate for that child to learn.  In order to say that it is only that they must have phonics before they can qualify for one of these factors simply makes, to me, no sense, and, certainly, is a big stretch in the whole phonics-whole language discussion, but especially since we are not talking about the phonics that many of us can relate to but talking about explicit systematic.  I traveled up to Omaha, went to the classroom where this was taught, recognized it as being very successful for some students in the Millard School system whose parents chose to have them learn this method.  It was successful.  Does that mean that every school should have to offer this in order to qualify for the incentive payments?  I think not.  I do not think that thatÕs the direction that I would want to see the Legislature go, and so it really has nothing to do with if we believe phonics is a good way to learn how to read.  I happen to be one of those believers in phonics, but I also recognize that there are some children who learn better through whole language.  You remember Senator Elmer had the little boy who is going to kindergarten who was already at the college level.  Does it make any sense to have him enter kindergarten and learn phonics when he is already reading before he even comes to school?  Does it make any sense that any school has to offer explicit Systematic phonics in order to qualify?  And then, like I said, we even have a battle within the phonics community if it should be 70 phonemes or 45 phonemes.  This is just something that has been a particular area -if interest for two or three people, especially...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  in Senator WitekÕs district.  I receive mailings every week from some people who are very, very intensely interested in this subject.  That does not mean that because we have a small group of people who can demonstrate that certain children learn best only with systematic phonics does not mean that all children, nor does it mean that all schools should have to offer it in order to qualify for incentive money.  That is not the intent of the bill, and I am very much in opposition to the amendment.  Thank you.

 

13795

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Senator Witek.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  Thank you, Madam Chairman.  I find it interesting that Senator Bohlke says this is two or three people who are interested across the state, and I hope anybody who hears this going out, or who reads anything In the paper, takes note of that quote, and I will even provide that, that Senator Bohlke, the head of our Education Committee, thinks that this in something that two or three people in the state of Nebraska is interested in, because I can tell you itÕs way, way, way beyond two or three people in my district that are interested in this issue.  And why is it micromanaging when itÕs something that- I would like to see as a part of quality education in the state of Nebraska, and something that I would like to put in this bill, if youÕre talking about quality education and taking lottery money, $9 million of lottery money, and putting that out for quality education.  in the state, of Nebraska, but -itÕs .,not micromanaging when you Ôgo through the list of things that schools have to comply with in order to be ready for this when Senator Bohlke wanted those things in?  If Senator Bohlke wants it in this bill, then itÕs not micromanaging.  If Kate Witek wants it in this bill, then the head of the Education Committee says IÕm trying to micromanage education, IÕm mandating.  And yet when Senator Bohlke is talking about this bill, itÕs not a mandate and itÕs not micromanaging.  So, if you...  if you talk about what you think is in a quality education, it might include things like alternative schools, or 60 percent have to have certain test scores, or the teaching-mentoring program, those might be what you think are important in your schools to make quality schools.  What I think is important to make a quality school is teaching children how to read, and thatÕs something thatÕs not going on in a lot of our classrooms across this state.  And we are having problems, if you look at what weÕre paying for special education, and if you look in the handout that I gave you, on the last page, at the very bottom, in the last paragraph it says, the fashionable word in the reading controversy right now is Òbalance,Ó and thatÕs what Senator Bohlke talks about is we have to have balance.  It would be tragic if the shift to phonics went to extremes and if the genuine contribution of whole language were abandoned.  So this embrace of moderation is welcome.  IÕm not advocating phonics

 

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only, IÕm telling you this is something that should be included and balanced.  However, balanced can mean many things.  Even whole language teachers now maintain that their approach is balanced, which you just heard that theyÕre already doing this, theyÕre already putting phonics in, because after all they do address phonics.  But IÕll tell you something, they donÕt do it consistently, and they donÕt do it systematically and explicitly.  And, yes, those words are very important to what this is asking people to do.  There are elements of phonics instruction that cannot be diluted, it goes on to say, it must be systematic and explicit if the full benefit is to be derived from it.  To deprive children of that benefit is destructive.  We are allowing the destruction of childrenÕs reading ability to go on every single day in schools across this state, and weÕre not doing anything.  As leaders in the Legislature, weÕre not doing anything.  ThereÕs no bill that came out of the Education Committee.  What youÕre doing in this bill is tying this to the State Board standards.  And if you read on page 2 of Òthe bill that weÕre discussing, 1228, it says, each district in a local system has adopted academic standards adopted and promulgated by the State Board of Education, or academic standards approved by the State Board as generally more rigorous than the academic standards adopted and promulgated by the State Board.  Well, let me tell you that the academic standards that are generally more rigorous that theyÕre talking about is the NEEDS document, which includes the use of systematic phonics.  So, all this is doing is duplicating what youÕve already got in this piece of legislation; itÕs just spelling it out a little more clearly to people who might not understand it in educationese, that the generally more rigorous academic standards that were adopted by the...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  ...  State Board include the NEEDS document.  And if that isnÕt what youÕre intimating by that language, that needs to be clarified by the proponents of this bill.  So by asking schools to comply with this, if they want to have this ...  these dollars for quality education, to me makes perfect sense and is something that probably should have been done in one way or another a long time ago.  And a lot of parents are pretty angry.  As far as the core knowledge program in Millard,

 

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that is one grade level, that started out as one grade level, I think itÕs expanded to about the fourth grade now, and it is not available to those of us who want it.  There are long waiting lists to get our children into those programs.  And mine are already older.  Parents on waiting lists to try to get into those core knowledge programs in Millard, and you donÕt even have those anywhere else in the entire state.  We are the only school district that even offers that.  So itÕs not available ,now.  This is something that would ask schools to look at it, make it available to every student in K through 12, should they want to be eligible...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  ...  for this money.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Witek.  Senator Bohlke.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Madam President, members, I donÕt intend to speak to this amendment again, and not even use my three times.  I do want to clarify when I was talking about the people that I was aware of and that I have heard of...  from, from Senator WitekÕs district.  There are three that come to mind.  I didnÕt mean those were the only people in her district that support phonics.  I did travel up to the district, to her district, to observe a whole classroom, met a number of parents there who are on the Parent Council, who support phonics.  And so I was just trying to indicate that I know that there are people, three people who, in Senator WitekÕs district, are intensely, I think I used the word, interested in phonics.  And intensely means that every-week when I go home I have a white envelope that has more information about phonics.  And I often read it, I donÕt always have time to read every single mailing, but it is simply what I was trying to point out, that I had realized that there was a great amount of interest in Senator WitekÕs district, and I think thatÕs where a great deal of it started, because thatÕs where the Spaulding Academy is located.  But apart from that, I think that the points that I have made about certainly this should not be a premise for school districts, I donÕt think, to qualify, and I didnÕt hear Senator Witek speak to the disagreement within the phonics support group over whether it should be 70 phonemes or 45 phonemes.  And certainly I think,

 

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once again, itÕs the flexibility that we would hope that all schools would have with the reading teacher in how to best instruct a child.  And we need to, I think, recognize that flexibility, and actually that flexibility is often what provides quality, and giving a teacher that kind of flexibility lets her be the quality teacher that we hope is in every classroom.  With that, IÕm not going to speak again, and I remain in opposition to the amendment.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Senator Beutler.  Senator Beutler.  Senator Crosby.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Madam President and members.  IÕll just speak briefly on this particular amendment.  I am going to vote for this amendment, and I understand what Senator Bohlke is saying.  But phonics, for me, has been always the better way at least, I think, to start out in reading.  All of my children can read.  ..That sounds like a soap opera, all of my children can read I because they did start -Out, and what...  I used to think it was because our particular Catholic school didnÕt have a lot of money to innovate, and so we stuck with the old methods.  I learned by phonics.  I can remember my first days in school learning by phonics.  Some of my children, most of ...  all four of them actually, I think, could read certain words before they went to school because we read at home.  We read to them from the time they were tiny, and they began to recognize words or correlate words with pictures and so on, and I think that has a great deal to do with it, too.  And we go back to it again that the parents at home who...  and IÕm not painting myself as some big saint, it just happened to be that I liked to read, too.  ThatÕs one of my favorite pastimes and has been since I was a little girl.  The other thing though about phonics, I canÕt believe that most of you donÕt realize, and maybe you donÕt, because eventually ...  you start with phonics, and eventually you go on to the whole word.  But itÕs because you see those letters and you understand the sounds and they come together as a whole word.  For instance, one of the things that I think is interesting in our society today, and here in Lincoln in particular, we have eastern Indian people who live here, who have come to school and stayed.  A lot of people look at the eastern Indian names and think theyÕre hard to pronounce.  No, theyÕre not, if you sound them out, they are very easy because

 

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the syllables are easy to sound out.  Look at Dr.  Deepak Gangahar, very simple name.  If you look at it as a whole word perhaps it isnÕt, because youÕre not sure what goes together.  But if you sound it out, the word comes very clearly to you is how to pronounce that name.  I know another, Dr.  Bajwa, B-a-j-w-a.  If youÕd look at that just as, well, howÕs that pronounced?  Well if you look at ÒBaÓ, or even if you thought it was a long A, Bajwa, itÕs easy to do when you sound it out.  And those of us who know how to read, and reading is easy now because weÕve been doing it for so many years, donÕt think about the fact that when we started with the phonics and learned to sound them out, eventually we move to the whole word.  And we listen, we listen to our parents as we were little and understand how to pronounce a name or a word, and then when we see that name or word in writing we realize that thatÕs the word weÕve been hearing.  So, I donÕt...  I think this amendment is probably okay on LB 1228, and I am going to vote for it.  And I did think that perhaps Senator Witek needed a little help here.  I have heard from a significant number of peopleÕ about ÒÒphonics from my district and from across the state and from the city of Lincoln because a lot of people, most of us, are concerned about why a lot of children do not learn how to read.  Reading is essential.  ItÕs wonderful to know how to do math, but if you canÕt read the instructions telling you how to do that math, or unless youÕre .ome kind of math genius that it just comes out of your brain, and there are those people, you have to learn to read to understand the math book.  SoÉ

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  ...  reading is essential.  I think phonics is a good start.  I would hope that this would be a signal to the schools to incorporate phonics in their curriculum, if they arenÕt doing it now, and to use it in the proper way.  And I will support the amendment.  Thank you.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Wickersham.

 

SENATOR WICKERSHAM:  Thank you, Madam President.  I rise in opposition to Senator WitekÕs amendment, not because I donÕt think that some children might benefit by the use of phonics as a part of their educational experience.  I had phonics when I

 

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was in elementary school.  I donÕt know whether it helped me or hurt me in my efforts to learn how to read.  I did somehow learn how to read, maybe thatÕs the only thing thatÕs important.  But phonics wonÕt do everything that some people might lead you to believe it does.  It wonÕt teach you how to accurately pronounce or learn the meaning of any kind...of many, many words, it doesnÕt do that.  ItÕs simply one tool that can be combined with a number of other tools and produce ...  produce an ability to read.  I donÕt...  I also have very serious misgivings about the specific language thatÕs contained in the Witek amendment.  In part, itÕs difficult to know what is intended or what it would mean, how it was going to be implemented.  I also do not believe that we should in statute dictate a specific instructional technique.  We declined to do that just a few minutes ago in another area, and not necessarily educational technique, but a means of conveying information.  That kind of material, that kind of direction,.  that kind of instruction I donÕt believe belongs in the statuteÕ.  Probably somebody will run up to me and hand me an example that shows where we have done that in some respect, but I donÕt think a particular teaching technique like phonics belongs in the statutes.  Schools, teachers should be entitled to use it as a part of their instructional mix, if they want to do it, but I donÕt think it should be predominant, I donÕt think we should require it.  It is not the be-all, end-all that some people would suggest to us.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Wickersham.  Senator Bruning.

 

SENATOR BRUNING:  Madam President, members of the body, this is not a debate I intended to get into, but I thought I would share a conversation I had with somebody thatÕs separated from this debate, and that person is my father.  HeÕs a professor of educational psychology at the university.  He is basically an unabashed liberal, and in general his political philosophies have nothing to do with the general political philosophies of the folks that in general are supporting Senator Witek, the conservatives, so to speak.  But I asked him about this particular issue.  And I said, Dad, what do you think about this, you know, having explicit phonics as a part of the curriculum?  And the way he described it to me is he said, Jon, phonics as a tool has ebbed and flowed, the usefulness of it

 

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over time.  And if you go back into the seventies, phonics was the be-all, end-all, and then kind of shifted into the eighties and nineties and itÕs moving more toward whole language.  And it ebbs and flows, kind of like party control ebbs and flows, Democrats and Republicans.  And he said, right now there are some schools where the ebb or the flow has turned so that whole language is pretty much everything thatÕs used, and theyÕre ignoring phonics to some degree.  And one of those schools, according to my father, was Millard.  And so if you wonder why Senator WitekÕs in the middle of this, itÕs because Millard happens to be one of the schools in this state where theyÕve basically moved to a whole language approach, and thereÕs parents saying, hey, Johnny canÕt learn to read because heÕs not getting any phonics.  Well, at Millard that may be true.  Now, IÕm going to rise in support of this amendment because I...the way .1 read it, and IÕm just a young lawyer, not an old lawyer, but the way I see this law is that it says, must be part.  of the reading curriculum., not all the reading curriculum, part of the reading curriculum.  And that means it can be 10 percent, or 20 percent, or whatever that school determines, but it still has to be part.  And the way this learned man, my father, described it, Mr. Ph.D.  said, Jon, kids need both, kids have to have both.  And at a school like Millard, it sounds like theyÕre not getting both.  And so I think Senator WitekÕs amendment is going to solve the problem.  There are a lot of schools in this state who donÕt need this amendment.  There are a lot of schools in this state who are already doing the right thing and using both, but unfortunately there are a few that are not.  And this particular amendment, I think, will solve that problem.  I hate to put mandates on schools, I hate to tell them how to teach, but sometimes when the pendulum swings too far, like I think it has in a few districts, you have to result to these kind of solutions.  So IÕm going to rise in support of the amendment and I hope you support it as well.  Thank you.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bruning.  Senator Beutler.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Madam Lieutenant Governor and members of the Legislature, I think I agree to some extent with what Senator Bruning has described as the ebb and flows in terms of educational fashions or educational theories, that is ...  that is true.  But for me, itÕs always seemed the interference at the

 

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state level in a matter should only come at such time as there appears to be total intransigence on the part of the education establishment with regard to a direction that the Legislature feels education should be moving in.  And I donÕt feel that in this particular situation thatÕs what weÕve run into.  What weÕve run into is an education establishment that has been working with a couple of different theories in teaching children.  It may be true that in certain school districts the pendulum has swung too far away from phonics, but one of the advantages and virtues of local control is that we allow some of this to happen.  We learn from the mistakes of certain school districts and the system moves back into some kind of balance again.  My perception is that the system is, in fact, on its own, without any help from us, moving back into balance again.  I think Senator Witek has served a good purpose by highlighting this debate, by highlighting the possibility of this imbalance, but I think that the debate, itself, well served the purpose of making the education establishment look at the different needs of.  different children when it comes ...  when it comes to the way to learn reading.  So having said that, at least at this point in time, and on this particular bill, which has to do with a somewhat different objective, I donÕt think that I can support this particular amendment.  And I would like to say, finally, I am sorry that Senator Witek wishes to latch onto a couple of words of the chairperson of the Education Committee and threaten that literally she is going to tell the state that she said there is only one or two persons that support phonics.  The chairperson of the Education Committee has always been very broad-minded, has always listened to every segment of the population, and I know that she understands that there a lot of people out there concerned about phonics.  And so I wish that we would keep this debate constructive and on point, and recognize people for who they really are, and how they really operate.  Thank you.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Beutler.  Senator Kiel.

 

SENATOR KIEL:  Thank you, Madam Lieutenant Governor and members of the Legislature.  I think Senator Beutler said some of the things that I had intended to say.  I have my masterÕs degree in reading.  I have taught reading for a number of years, and I happen to believe that phonics instruction is very important to

 

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children who are learning to read, but I also happen to believe, not happen to believe, I know that phonics instruction is not the only way that children learn how to read.  They need to be able to do things that help them understand words, the meaning of words, and thatÕs the whole language approach.  They also need to know how to recognize sight words because there is no way to understand or read sight words other than just knowing them in their whole form.  When I got my masterÕs degree in reading, we actually studied a problem that children have who learn to read by relying solely upon phonetic pronunciation.  It is called hyperlexia, and what that is is word callers, and what we found with children who did that is that word callers could pronounce the word ÒbeautifullyÓ correctly quickly, but they had no idea what they were reading.  They had no comprehension whatsoever.  That said, again I would reiterate that phonics instruction is very important but teachers need to be able to use a variety of methods of instruction to teach children to read and- that -,this- particular amendment probably, does not belong this ...  in this legislation, but it belongs with the State Board of Education who, I think, has begin to promulgate some standards to make sure that schools are encouraged to use phonics as part of their instruction.  Thank you.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Kiel.  Seeing no further lights, Senator Witek, to close on the amendment.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  Thank you, Madam Chairman, members of the Legislature.  I have children in the schools at this time so I do know whatÕs going on in the schools at this time..  And those of you who donÕt have children in schools at this time, I hope you take the time to talk with and to go watch some of the instruction thatÕs going on, because then youÕll understand a lot better what weÕre talking about here.  And what has occurred, Senator Beutler talks about there has been some experimentation with the methodology for reading, and weÕve made some mistakes and now weÕre ...  the pendulum is swinging back.  Well, let me tall you what mistakes weÕve made.  These mistakes are to teach my children how to read, and thatÕs why people get emotional about this issue, because we didnÕt know you were experimenting with methodologies on our children.  And when we realized it and then when we knew that there was a method out there that was proven, if you read this article, and if you talk

 

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to the parents out there, that proves that you can teach children, and after parents agonized over what could possibly be wrong that my children cannot read or cannot spell, and then they go to the Phoenix Academy or some other expensive place, and let me tell you there is a lot Of Us who canÕt afford to have our kids there, after we agonize and we talk to the parents who can afford to put their kids there, and tell us that in three weeks they could read and write perfectly, and we have to go through that.  You can ...  you can bet that the anger out there is hard to deal with, especially when it is your child and youÕre talking about a basic function of life.  This is similar to the Braille bill.  This is why I brought the Braille bill because these Braille children are being denied the same instructions that these children are being denied if we do not teach the teachers.  You ...  you canÕt...  if we started here with .Just this one amendment, then school districts that wanted to participate would have to make sure that their teachers knew how *to teach through this, instruct ional method.  You, canÕt include this if you donÕt even know how to teach it, and most our teachers donÕt, and we donÕt put it into our teacher training in our universities, and we donÕt put it into our teacher instructions after the university, BO there is no way for them to use this as a tool in their classroom.  And unless weÕre going to step forward in a quality education bill, and you talk about mentoring teachers, and you talk about test scores, and you talk about everything else that you have in this bill as being part of a quality education, and you canÕt support making sure children learn how to read as part of a quality education, youÕve got to ask yourselves why you made that decision.  And I hope you donÕt come to the conclusion that itÕs because weÕre going to let people make mistakes out there until they come to the same conclusion that those parents of us who have agonized over this have come to, because those mistakes that youÕre making in the meantime are children and it damages their lives.  YouÕve gotten letters from some of these kids.  They canÕt spell.  And you go in there and you read ...  have them read to you, they canÕt read and they donÕt comprehend well.  And this is my child, these are our children, and it is irresponsible of this Legislature to let a quality education bill go through the Legislature again without addressing the reading issue.  itÕs basic.  I love to read.  I agree with Senator Crosby and I appreciate her comments, and Senator BruningÕs.  I love to read.

 

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None of you could be here if you couldnÕt read as well as we can read.  And yet youÕre denying these same opportunities because youÕre not demanding that this high level of instruction happen within our school systems and within our teaching institutions.  You are allowing those teachers, like Senator Bruning mentioned, who went whole hog on the whole language, who tell you weÕre including phonics in here, and they are not.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  They are not systematically including phonics in the instruction for these children, and in the meantime those mistakes walk around, try to get jobs, try to continue on with their lives, and itÕs very difficult in order to do that when you cannot read.  There is no reason why school Systems that put as much money, time and effort as we do into our schools in the state of Nebraska should not have the top readers in the country.  And there is no reason why phonics, systematic explicit instruction in phonics shouldnÕt be part of the reading curriculums for those schools who want to comply with this bill.  And for us to consider for one minute that this isnÕt part of a quality education is totally irresponsible and itÕs very disappointing to me that the Education Committee in the Legislature chose not to advance this bill from their committee.  I would ask for your help with this amendment.  I assure you it is very important to a number of people across this state, including our children who need this to go on with their lives and have those high academic performances that weÕre trying to get with this very bill.  So I ask for your help with this amendment and I would appreciate your vote.  Thank you.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Witek.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Witek amendment to LB 1228.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Senator Witek.

 

SENATOR WITEK:  I know itÕs late but I would like a call of the house and a roll call vote.  This is very important to me.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  The question before the body is the call of the house.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Please record.

 

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CLERK:  16 ayes, 0 nays to place the house under call.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The house is under call.  Will senators please return to their seats.  Will all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor.  The house is under call.  Senators, will you check in please, the house is under call.  Senator Schellpeper, Senator Bohlke, will you check in.  Senator Kristensen, Senator Don Pederson.  Senator Landis, will you check in, please.  Senator Raikes.  Senator Tyson, will you check in, please.  Senator Brown, Senator ÔChambers, Senator Elmer.  Senator Kristensen, will you check in, please.  Senator Schellpeper and Senator Brown.  WeÕre waiting for Senator Brown.  The question before the body is the adoption of the Witek amendment to LB 1228.  All those in ...  Senator Witek asked for a roll call vote.  Mr. Clerk, please proceed.

 

CLERK:  (Roll call vote taken.  See page 1137 of the Legislative Journal.) 17 ayes, 19 nays on the amendment, Madam President.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Witek amendment fails.  I raise the call.  Mr. Clerk, next amendment.

 

CLERK:  Madam President, may I read some items, please.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Items for the record.

 

CLERK:  Senator Will has amendments to (LB) 1073; Senator Hillman to (LB) 1108; Senator Wesely to 1073; and I have a new resolution, LR 342, by Senator Robinson.  (Read brief summary.) (See pages 1138-51 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

Next amendment to 1228, Senator Bohlke, AM3847, Senator.  (See page 1151 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Chair recognizes Senator Bohlke to open on the amendment.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, members, Madam President and members, this amendment, if you remember, and one of the premier categories talks about a nationally certified teacher, instead of naming that particular group, actually beings it is in statute, this

 

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just says that instead it would say who would be certified through standards and who, and insert, Òwho has received credentials from a national nonprofit organization the purpose of which is to establish high and rigorous standards in a broad range of educational areas for what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do and which issues credentials to teachers who demonstrate that they meet those standards.Ó -This is just a better way of putting it in the bill, rather than naming the actual group that does the certification.  So with that, I ask for your adoption.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator.  Is there any discussion on the Bohlke amendment?  Seeing none, Senator Bohlke, do you wish to close?  Closing is waived.  The question before you is the adoption of the Bohlke amendment to LB 1228.  All those in favor vote aye; all those opposed vote nay.  Have you all voted?  Please record.

 

CLERK:  25 ayes, I nay, Madam President.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Bohlke amendment is adopted.  Mr..  Clerk, next amendment.

 

CLERK:  Senator Bohlke, I now have AM3854, Senator.  (See pages 1151-52 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  The Chair recognizes Senator Bohlke to open on her amendment.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Thank you, Madam President and members.  If you recall, the last time we had a great deal of discussion really on assessments and testing, what this does is rather than call it testing, it puts the word ÒassessmentÓ in, which seemed to satisfy more people.  The other thing it does is we have talked about.  the one test.  In discussions with the Department of Education, what they wanted is to have the flexibility say at the senior high level, using the ACT, but at the middle school, possibly using Terra Nova, and at the elementary level, using the Iowa Basics.  So it allows them to do that flexibility, and but then goes on and says if there is a district out there who wants to use a different test, if theyÕre willing to pay for the correlation and the scoring of that test to the standard, so

 

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that we come out with one score, they may do that.  And so it says the state will provide, the State Department of Education does one assessment at each of the grade levels, but that the important thing is a common score that is reported from the test.  And then it does give the school districts the opportunity, if they- wish to use the different test, but they would have to pay to have that correlated and to have that scored.  And thatÕs the essence of the amendment.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Senator Beutler.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Bohlke, just a question, if I could.  I wasnÕt aware of this amendment, but when you say the tests can be correlated, I understand in a general sense what I think that means in comparing the two tests and saying with respect to one test that it means this on the scale of the other test.  How accurate are correlations?  I mean is it something like a survey.  you, can ...  you can say that if 100 kids took-the other test, 95 percent of the time the result would fall in the correlated figure?  I guess I am wanting to know to what extent is a school district who correlates their scores going, to be able to argue, even when they are correlated, that somehow they canÕt be compared?  I am concerned about the comparability factor.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Beutler, as you know, weirs very lucky in Nebraska to have the Buros Institute and have had an opport ...  who does this type of thing for school districts across the nation right here in Lincoln.  I believe that the correlation for what weÕre after, for that general common score of understanding that they believe that they could do that, if...  if they could.  It may be difficult for some, that a school district, and I am trying to think of a test they may wish to use, couldnÕt be correlated to the standards, they wouldnÕt be able to use that.  There may be some test out there that the Buros would probably have to look at and see that it could be correlated.  The important thing is having it correlated to our standards that weÕve adopted, and if they do that, I think it would be close enough to those standards thatÕs really getting at what weÕre trying to with the bill, and that is to make sure that we have a common reporting and know that schools are working towards those standards and the quality indicators here

 

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in the bill.  So itÕs a long answer for, yes, I think that if theyÕre able to correlate it, but there are some tests that I think will not be able to be correlated, from what I understand from the Buros Institute, that may not be able to be correlated to the standards.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator, thank you.  Thank you, Madam Lieutenant Governor.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Beutler.  Senator Bromm.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam Lieutenant Governor.  I think when we had some hearings and meetings last summer and fall, we heard from schools that had a particular test that they wanted to use or were used to using, and one of their complaints about a statewide required uniform test was that they just felt that they would have to shift gears and adapt a new test, or if they were to continue to give their old test to compare how they were doing in years past, they would have to give two tests, and they felt like that would take extra time from the actual on task teaching, perhaps another half a day or another day depending on the length of test, and so they ...  there were some districts that did wish to use their own test.  And so I think...  I like that and I support Senator BohlkeÕs amendment in that respect.  I do have a couple of questions for her, and if IÕm asking something thatÕs already been stated, I apologize.  IÕve been trying to listen but I had a couple of other conversations.  Would Senator Bohlke yield to a question?

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Senator Bohlke, where weÕre saying if the district substitutes a different assessment or test, the district pays for the assessment scored in correlation with scores, has anyone given us any indication on the cost of correlation?  If weÕve got district A out here that decides they are going to use a test that can be correlated, have you heard any cost figures?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Bromm, IÕm not sure I can give you an

 

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accurate answer.  I think it would determine on the test.  There are some tests that are used nationally.  I am Just picking Terra Nova, just say, that would probably not be very difficult if they needed...  if that was not one of the tests and they wanted to continue to use Terra Nova, I have a feeling that test would not be very difficult, so, therefore, I wouldnÕt expect it to be as expensive.  Another test may be more, but I cannot tell you what the exact expense would be for that local district.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Physically or logistically, I should say, the district would ...  would probably need to hire someone like Buros to correlate their test to the state standard, is that...  is that how it would work or...  ?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  I think so, but I think, actually, Senator Bromm, they could also just ask Buros in the very beginning before going through the whole expense, if it was in the realm of reason, and then a...  I think they could get that initial answer because, as I said, this is a national ...  Buros, you know, they do this for school districts all over the country.  So I think they could give them that initial indication, but IÕm assuming that they would use Buros because they are here in the state and, you know, they could use someone else if they wanted, but it would have to be someone who would be an expert in that area.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  And one more question, under the bill as it stands, if they donÕt elect to use their own test but use a statewide test, the state would pay for the acquiring the test materials, and for the scoring of the test; the district would simply incur the time of administering the test and reporting the results or giving the results back for scoring, or whatever, is that accurate or...?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ThatÕs accurate.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, thank you.  I...I support the amendment.

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Beutler.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Bohlke, could I ask a couple more questions, please.

 

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PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Bohlke.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  In this amendment thatÕs been presented to us, there is more than one concept, as I understand it.  I am sorry, I wasnÕt listening very close at the beginning.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  And I apologize that I didnÕt get a chance to discuss this with all the committee members before filing it.  The one concept as you just heard is the ...  what Senator Bromm and I discussed.  The other is to allow one test at each of the grade...a test at each of the grade levels.  But letÕs say they wanted to use the ACT at the senior high level, that they wanted to use I gave the example of Terra Nova at the middle school because there are things in those tests that they wanted to accurately ...  or that they wanted to see how schools were doing, and some tests test certain areas better than others.  And say they wanted to stick with the Iowa Basics at the elementary because of wanting grammar and fractions and those things that people recognize that the Iowa Basic does a particularly good job with.  So it would allow them to use at each of those grade levels a different test than....

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Let me ask you this, the material that is on line 6 through 11, the complete sentence there, districts may substitute a different assessment if the score can be correlated, etcetera, that doesnÕt relate to the discussion you just had.  That relates to comparison within grades of different tests, right?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ThatÕs correct.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Okay.  IÕm...  IÕm still concerned about that particular aspect of the amendment because I would like to know what correlation means.  You say, for example, that the Buros firm correlates scores, and they may say it canÕt be correlated.  I donÕt know how this works exactly but I am afraid it may work something like, well, we can correlate this test to this test, and the margin of error be plus or minus 5 percent, or something like that.  I donÕt know how they exactly score these things.

 

13812

 

or we can compare that test to this test, and if we do that, the margin of error goes to 10 percent because of vagaries or incongruities that may be between these two tests.  Now at some point in time, I suppose the margin of error is so great that Buros says you canÕt compare the two tests.  My concern is, basically, this.  I think that the whole point of having, not the whole point, I want to take that back right away, a good ...  a good part of the point of having uniform tests is so that people...  so that the public feels confident that, indeed, we are seeing apples and apples, and oranges to oranges in comparing within our own school district, and comparing across school districts, at least within the state, if not nationally.  And I do not want it mucked up by correlated scores and then having some superintendent come in and say, well, yeah, it doesnÕt look so good on this correlated score but, you know, this has a plus or minus 10 percent margin of error, so it really means that we could be as good as the other school, if it is up at the upper end of the margin.  I donÕt want any of that, and is that what IÕm getting with this part of the amendment?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Senator Beutler, you know that I have...  I have stated what you have just stated a number of times as far as the test goes.  I donÕt think so, because when you have to correlate to the adopted standards, I donÕt think youÕll see that ...  that kind of swing and I really doubt that very many school districts would...

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  One minute.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ...  when a test is paid for at the state level, I doubt that very many districts would actually pay for this correlation.  But if they do, and if, and as the testing people have told me the importance that if it...making it correlate to the standards, you really wouldnÕt have very much of a swing, and you would still have what I would think is important, the common reporting from the school district to the public as to how...a common score, one score would be given.  So after they correlate it, it still has to come out as to one score, and I think that takes away the confusion for the public, and as I said, IÕm not sure really how many districts will decide to do this.

 

13813

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Well, Senator, if all these scores from different kinds of tests can be correlated, what then is the problem with requiring all to take one test, the same test?

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Time.  Thank you, Senator.  Senator Beutler.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  I mean there must be ...  the logical thing seems to be for everybody to take the same test, and if somebody...  if there is somebody out there that doesnÕt want to take the same test but wants to take a test that can be correlated.  then whatÕs the point of a different test?  Senator, Senator Bohlke, if I may.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, yes.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Let me...  let me ask you this, how important to you are lines 6 through 11 of this amendment?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Well, Senator Beutler, I ...  you know, I ...  it is not one of the most important things, a part of the bill.  It gives some flexibility to the districts who would want to pay to do that correlation.  I think as far as what I heard from the department, what they wanted to make sure, was that they just had the flexibility of using one test at the senior level, the middle school, and the elementary, which made some sense to me, that, you know, if you wanted to use the ACT.  But this part I do not...  I havenÕt heard that any one ...  you know, I think that it gives some flexibility to some schools, but I do not know as this part that itÕs, you know, essential, if thatÕs what youÕre asking me.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Okay.  If, Senator, it is not offensive to you, I would like to ask probably for a division of the question.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ThatÕs fine.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Madam Lieutenant Governor, IÕd ask for the question to be divided to separate out the complete sentence beginning in line 6 through the complete sentence in line 11, to the end of that complete sentence, excuse me.

 

13814

 

PRESIDENT ROBAK:  Senator Beutler, let me look at the amendment and make a determination.  Senator Bohlke, could you come forward please?  Senator Beutler, it is divisible.  I rule ...  the Chair rules that it is divisible, and Senator Bohlke has determined that we will continue with the discussion of line 6 through line 11, as you have asked that it be pulled out.  Senator Bromm, do you wish to speak to the first division of the Bohlke amendment?

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Yes, thank you, Madam Lieutenant Governor.  I stand to support this section of the amendment, and let me try to explain to Senator Beutler why ...  why this might be something that should be kept in the amendment.  There are districts who have spent money, and in some cases I am told a fair amount of money, to assess their students over a period of time using a particular test, which might not be the same test thatÕs chosen for the statewide test.  Those districts, I think, at least in my case, have expressed some concern about not being able to,Õ continue using that particular assessment so that they can tell, in their eyes, how they are doing in comparison to previous years.  Now you might say that, well, if it could be correlated, it can be correlated, and I donÕt know that I have the answer to that for sure, but I do know that that concern was expressed.  Secondly, if the district is going to pay for it, if itÕs that important to them to maintain the brand or style or whatever it is of test that theyÕve been using, and they want to pay for the correlation themselves, and it can be correlated, whereÕs the harm?  I guess where is the foul?  ThatÕs what IÕm not understanding, I guess.  So I think the flexibility is a reason to continue this, plus the reason given by districts that want to continue to use the test theyÕve used.  If ...  well, you could say, well, they could use ...  they could continue to use the test theyÕve been using and pay for it, and take the state test also.  Well, the objection there, at least that I heard, was that that means more time in school for testing, that means another several hours or half a day or whatever that they canÕt work in the classroom stuff and they are doing testing.  So that would be duplicative testing which I donÕt think particularly is of any advantage.  The one, you know, I guess overall the one thing I have a little problem with this whole section about, and IÕll mention it, is that I do have a fear that...  I donÕt want schools teaching necessarily just for testing, and that goes

 

13815

 

more to the criteria section of this bill, and that kind of thing.  But I do think...  I do think it is necessary, this section of the bill deals with being able to compare how weÕre actually doing in different parts, different schools, and perhaps even different sized schools, and I think...  I think that information is useful and so I support it.  And I support this flexibility and at least IÕm trying to articulate to you the reasons why I think that itÕs advantageous to continue to have this portion of the Bohlke amendment.  Thank you.

 

SENATOR CROSBY PRESIDING

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Senator Beutler.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  Senator Crosby, members of the Legislature, we are spending several million dollars developing a statewide test, and the reason that weÕre doing that, in part, a large part, is to restore the confidence of the.  public in the education system.  And one of the things that has grieved the public, I believe, is their inability to compare school districts, schools within their districts, no means by which to do that, in any sort of realistic way.  There is ...  there is no point to spending all this money and having all these requirements if, in fact, the result of what youÕre doing does not give the public the kind of comparison information that theyÕre asking for.  If youÕre going to go through this process of correlating different tests, then the answer to my question of whether the public is going to be satisfied after we spend all of this money depends on what the correlation means.  Does it mean that a kid who takes....kids who take Test A, if they had taken Test B, would the correlation be accurate 100 percent of the time, 95 percent of the time, 90 percent of the time, and at what point does Buros, or whoever is doing the correlating, at what point do they say this is so ...  the probability or the possibility of inaccuracies is so great, there is no point in even doing a correlation.  Nobody on the floor today can answer the question of whether the correlations are, in fact, meaningful, and if meaningful, to what extent meaningful?  There have to be variations in terms of the degree of reliability, the degree of confidence that they have in comparing one or more tests.  And in the answer to that question lies all of the good or bad that we will get out of doing this statewide assessment.

 

13816

 

The goal is a statewide assessment that every ...  all the kids in the state participate in and we can see whatÕs happening with all of the kids in the state.  Unless somebody can explain to me why correlation is just as good as taking the same test, then I ...  I just donÕt feel confident that weÕre not undermining everything that weÕve set out to do.  There was no testimony about this in the Education Committee.  There has been no support, that I know of scientifically, for the idea of correlating these tests.  There may be that out there, but it certainly hasnÕt been presented to this Legislature.  it certainly hasnÕt been presented today to you on this floor, and I would think that before we would attach an amendment of this type, which undermines the basic philosophy underlying the testing requirements in 1228, that we would know exactly what weÕre doing.  So IÕm sorry we are on Select File.  I wish this would have been General File.  I would have gotten more information for you, but weÕre on Select File.  This provision has not seemed to be ...  has not been seen to be necessary at any point in time up until now, even though weÕve had discussions on the question of one or more tests at several points in this debate, including the committee meetings on...  on this particular bill.  Now we have this late amendment and I am not complaining that itÕs late, except for the fact that it cannot be explained and the explanation is key to whether it is a good amendment or a bad amendment.  So I would like to encourage you to take the cautionary approach on this, to reject this part of the committee amendment, and to go with certainty to where you know the public wants us to go, theyÕve been asking us to go for years, and that is to have one standard measurement for all the kids so we can see whatÕs going on.  So theÕ public can feel good about improvements or can look critically at...

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Time.

 

SENATOR BEUTLER:  ...  things they do *not consider improvements with some degree of reasonable certainty with regard to the measurement.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Beutler.  I am sorry I didnÕt give you the one minute warning.  Senator Bohlke, there are no further lights.  Would you like to close on this division of the amendment?  The question is the adoption of the first

 

13817

 

division of the amendment, of AM3854, which is from after the word Òassessment,Ó line 6 through the word ÒscoresÓ on line 11.  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  We are voting on the first division of the Bohlke amendment.  Have you all voted?  Senator Kristensen.

 

SPEAKER KRISTENSEN:  I move for a call of the house.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  A request for a call of the house, all in favor vote aye, opposed no.  Record, please.

 

ASSISTANT CLERK:  11 ayes, 0 nays to go under call, Madam President.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  The house is under call.  Would all senators please record your presence.  Would those unexcused senators please return to the Chamber and record your presence.  And would all unauthorized personnel please leave the floor, the house is under call.  Senator Abboud, would you record your presence.  Senator Brown, Senator Bruning, Senator Chambers, Senator Raikes, Senator Schimek, the house is under call.  Senator Suttle, Senator Thompson, the house is under call.  Senator Witek, Senator Kiel, Senator Landis, the house is under call.  Senator Tyson, the house is under call.  Senator Bohlke.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, I would request a roll call vote in regular order.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you.  Senator Witek and Senator Chambers, the house is under call.  Senator Bohlke, the Sergeant at Arms says that theyÕve tried both Senator WitekÕs and Senator ChambersÕ office, no one answers, shall we go ahead?  okay, Senator Bohlke has requested a roll call vote in regular order.  We are voting on the first division of the Bohlke amendment.  Mr. Clerk, please call the roll.

 

ASSISTANT CLERK:  (Roll call vote taken.  See pages 1152-53 of the Legislative Journal.) The vote is 20 ayes, 7 nays on the adoption of Senator BohlkeÕs amendment, Madam President.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  That division of the amendment fails.

 

13818

 

ASSISTANT CLERK:  The other component of this amendment is lines 1 through 6 and 12 through 15.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Discussion on the second division of this amendment?  I will raise the call.  There are ...  there is no discussion.  Senator Bohlke, did you wish to close on this division of the amendment?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Simply, Madam President, and members, while members are present, this would just allow the State Department of Education and the board to offer one test, one assessment at the senior high level, one at the middle, and one at the elementary.  Sometimes there are things that are different that youÕre looking at at those different grade ranges and I think that it was a good suggestion.  So with that, I ask for your support.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank- you.  YouÕve heard the closing.  The question is the adoption of the second division of the Bohlke amendment.  All those in favor vote aye, opposed no.  Record, please.

 

ASSISTANT CLERK:  27 ayes, 0 nays on this component of the amendment, Madam President.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  The amendment is adopted.  Mr. Clerk.

 

ASSISTANT CLERK:  Next amendment is offered by Senator Bromm.  This is AM3900.  (See page 1153 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bromm, to open on your amendment.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam President and colleagues.  This amendment is fairly ...  fairly short I think and easy to understand, and IÕm not sure if Senator Bohlke...  she may agree with it, I am not sure.  But let me explain it.  On page 3 of AM7214, line 5, where it talks about in the...in the premier quality factors, it talks about one of the factors being each first-year teacher in a local system is provided with a mentor participating in the mentor-teacher program pursuant to Section 5 of this act where a mentor-teacher program established by a district in the local system and approved by the state

 

13819

 

board, and there is at least one first-year teacher in the local system.  My amendment would strike the words Òand there is at least one first-year teacher in the local system.  Ò And let me explain to you what my rationale is for that.  I have two primary concerns.  I think we have, in a lot of smaller districts, we donÕt have an opportunity to have a first-year teacher on a regular basis.  ItÕs...  itÕs just not ...  itÕs just not possible.  We certainly donÕt want to have ...  have systems erratically replacing experienced teachers with first-year teachers just so they get a first-year teacher to qualify for funding out of this program.  And IÕm not suggesting that anybody would but I donÕt think they should be put in that Position.  The criteria would retain the language that says that if they do have a first-year teacher, they would have to provide them with a mentor, and they would have to participate in a mentor-teacher program.  It just eliminates the requirement that they have a first-year teacher in a local system.  The second concern that I have is particularly in the districts of Ôthe size of...  in the 23rd District, youÕll have a vacancy or an opening or a retirement, and the board will want to hire a new teacher.  The next amendment I have may take care of this problem, but this is a factor in this amendment as well.  If that...  if that school has an opportunity to hire a teacher that has three or four yearsÕ experience, and they can negotiate an acceptable contract and get a good teacher, I certainly wouldnÕt want them to be pressured under this system to hire a first-year teacher to meet the criteria.  So my amendment would take out those few words requiring that there be a first-year teacher in a local system for the reasons that IÕve stated.  Thank you, Senator Crosby.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Discussion on the Bromm, amendment?  Senator Jensen.

 

SENATOR JENSEN:  Thank you, Madam President, members of the body.  Senator Bromm, would you reply to a question please?

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bromm, will you yield for a question?

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Yes, I would.

 

SENATOR JENSEN:  Now did you say you have an amendment following 13820 this?  That my concern is that a first-year teacher into that system, but if they have taught three or four years in another system would still then come under this, is that correct, and would have to go through a mentoring program or may go through a mentoring program, if they had three or four years in another a system and then came into this one?

 

SENATOR BROMM:  The next amendment addresses that, Senator Jensen.  This one does not.

 

SENATOR JENSEN:  Oh, okay.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  This amendment simply removes the condition that you have to have a first-year teacher in a local system to qualify for this criteria.

 

SENATOR JENSEN:  For the mentoring program?  Okay.  So we are really, going .,to be looking,.  at -a package here of the two, this amendment plus the one following.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Right.

 

SENATOR JENSEN:  All right.  Thank you.  I will give the rest of my time back to the Chair.  Thank you, Madam President.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Jensen.  Further discussion?  Seeing none, Senator Bromm, would you like to close on your amendment?

 

SENATOR BROMM:  I donÕt think there is anything else to say other than the fact that this simply removes the requirement to have a first-year teacher in the system, although you do still have to have a mentoring program if you do have a first-year teacher.  Thank you.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  YouÕve heard the closing.  The question is the adoption of the Bromm amendment.  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  We are voting on the Bromm amendment.  Have you all voted?  We are voting on the Bromm amendment.  Have you all voted?  We are voting on the Bromm ...  record, please.

 

13821

 

ASSISTANT CLERK:  26 ayes, 0 nays on the adoption of Senator BrommÕs amendment.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  The amendment is adopted.  Mr. Clerk.

 

ASSISTANT CLERK:  Next amendment is by Senator Bohlke.  Senator, this is AM3862.  (See page 1154 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke.  Senator Bohlke, to open on your amendment.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, Madam President and members, I appreciate the members who are staying and as we try to get through these last couple of amendments.  This amendment specifies the ...  more specifically specifies the role of the commission thatÕs been in place for the lottery funds.  And the other thing that it does of significance, it says that it limits it to 80 percent, so at least 20 percent in there.  for those grants that schools-have been using it for in the past, and that it dedicates 80 percent of the total funds actually for this bill.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bohlke.  Discussion on the Bohlke amendment?  Senator Bromm.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Senator Crosby.  Senator Bohlke, could I just ask a question.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bohlke, will you yield for a question?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes, uh-huh.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  I want to be sure that I just understood what you said.  Up to 20 percent of the fund could still be used for funding the lottery grants, up to 20 percent, is that right?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ThatÕs correct.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  And so 10 percent, up to 10 percent could be used for funding the mentoring program.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Correct.

 

13822

 

SENATOR BROMM:  And then the 70 percent could be used for the quality education...

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Correct.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  ...  grants or...

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Incentives.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  ...  incentives.  Okay.  The up to 20 percent is worded that way because there might be...  that gives the lottery council some discretion whether to use it all or not use it all or...

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  There may be a ti ...  I mean they may not even have ...  there may be a time they wouldnÕt have the request that would take the full 20 percent.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, and then ...  and, basically, all this amendment does is restore the right or it restores the position in the funds allocating 20 percent for possible lottery grants, that is all this amendment does.

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ThatÕs correct, and it restates the role and mission of the commission.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  The first part of the amendment, subsection 1, 1 am not...  I am not absorbing that very quickly.  It talks about incentive payments may not be used to supplant federal, state, or local funds.  What does that mean or why is that?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  That, you know, we have said always that this is supposed to be for innovative, as the lottery funds were previously, that these are supposed to be for innovative funds, and it is not supposed to be ongoing state aid, and so this is just a statement of that fact.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  So...

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  That we...we stay on track with what weÕve said and what we brought over in the language from the lottery bill, that these are ...  the funds are to be used for innovative things

 

13823

 

and not ongoing types of funding for the school districts.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  And those innovative things are listed in the...

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  Yes.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  ...in the act now, itÕs all the purposes for which lottery grants could be awarded, is that...is that correct?

 

SENATOR BOHLKE:  ThatÕs correct.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Okay, thank you.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Further discussion?  Seeing none, Senator Bohlke, would you like to close on your amendment?  She waives closing.  The question is the adoption of the Bohlke amendment.  All in favor vote aye, opposed.  Record, please.

 

ASSISTANT CLERK:  26 ayes, 0 nays on the adoption of Senator BohlkeÕs amendment.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  The Bohlke amendment is adopted.  Mr. Clerk.

 

ASSISTANT CLERK:  Senator Bromm would move to amend with 3918.  (See page 1154 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bromm.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Madam President.  This amendment pertains to page 7, line 20, and this is the part of the ...  of the AM7214 that talks about developing a mentor-teacher program to provide ongoing support for individuals entering the teaching profession and developing the program, and so forth.  This, on General File I proposed an amendment, which was adopted, the intent of which would provide that the funding that is spent on mentor-teaching would actually be used to pay for mentoring, and when AM7214 came out of E & R and so forth, it is not as clear as I think it should be in that respect, so I have...  I have inserted language which says ÒFunding for mentor teacher programs shall be provided to local systems which provide each 13824 first-year teacher in the local system with a mentor.Ó So I hope that thatÕs clearer than it was before.  ThatÕs the way the money should be used if you adopt this amendment for sure.  There is one other thing this amendment does, and, Senator Jensen, you might want to definitely listen to this.  In discussing with some schools what it meant to have a first-year teacher, I found that...  1 found that even one of the largest school systems in the state thought that in this bill having a first-year teacher meant the first year the teacher taught in your system, not a first-year teacher right out of school.  And in talking that over a little bit more with those folks, again they explained to me that in many cases when a first-year teacher comes into your system, the first year that teacher is in your system, there is ...  there is quite a bit to learn and adjustment and training to the way they want things done and that kind of thing, so they thought it was fair that a first-year teacher mean a teacher who is teaching in your system for the first time.  So the definition thatÕs in this amendment will clarify it and it will be yes or no, but if this is going to drag the amendment down, I am going to want to divide it, because if people arenÕt comfortable with this, I guess I want to know it.  For purposes of this section, a first-year teacher means a teacher who is teaching in a local system for the first time.  So itÕs not necessarily a teacher that comes out of school and itÕs the first year of teaching, but itÕs the first year theyÕre teaching in this system.  Maybe they came from Alabama.  Maybe they came from where Senator Suttle came from.  You know, I mean, they...they might need mentoring and so thatÕs why weÕre inserting the definition.  I appreciate whatever position or policy decision the body wants to make on that but I put that before you.  Thank you. 

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Discussion on the Bromm amendment, Senator Kiel.

 

SENATOR KIEL:  Senator Bromm, if you would respond.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Senator Bromm, will you respond to a question?

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Yes.

 

SENATOR KIEL:  As I ...  and you were explaining the purpose of

 

13825

 

this one line, but I still have a little bit of a question about a first-year teacher means a teacher who is teaching in a local system for the first time.  For example, if you had a teacher who was in the Millard School District and came over to the OPS school district and had been teaching for ten years, under this definition, theyÕd still be considered a first ...  first-year teacher?

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Yes.

 

SENATOR KIEL:  Hmm, I guess IÕd like to perhaps see some more specificity as to, or maybe you can respond as to ...  you talked a little bit about it, but I have a little bit of a problem with considering someone who may have taught for a number of years still a first-year teacher and, therefore, needs a mentor and, therefore, a school district could qualify for funds for that mentor.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Yeah.

 

SENATOR KIEL:  I am not just quite sure that that does what maybe you want it to do.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Well, quite frankly, Senator Kiel, I can live with either decision on that, but I thought, and I should have put this in a separate amendment, but I was trying to save time.  I rolled it together and maybe I shouldnÕt have, and maybe I should divide it, but I want to be sure the body is clear and the districts understand what we mean by first-year teacher.

 

SENATOR KIEL:  Um-hum.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  There definitely were districts believing that a first-year teacher meant the first year that teacher taught in their system, and if that is not the intent, we need to make sure we make that clear on the record.  I can go either way on the policy.

 

SENATOR KIEL:  I guess if what weÕre looking for is someone with more experience and background and someone that a new teacher can lean upon, I donÕt know if that language exactly does that, but thatÕs my biggest concern is what weÕre looking for is to

 

13826

 

provide funding, adequate funding to school districts that are going to really set up a...not really, who are going to Bet up a mentor program, theyÕre actually going to provide the kind of help that a new teacher would need, I donÕt know if that language says that.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  The other...the other policy consideration might be that one of the schools mentioned to me, depending on how important it is for a school to meet this criteria in the bill, they might be more inclined to hire a teacher right out of school as opposed to a little bit more experienced teacher, who had maybe taught a couple of years somewhere.  It would put them on an equal ground from that standpoint.  So, and I understood that concern but I am not sure that thatÕs, you know, that doesnÕt necessarily tip the scale one way or the other for me, but itÕs something I wanted to at least mention as a...

 

SENATOR KIEL:  Okay.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  ...  consideration.

 

SENATOR KIEL:  I guess IÕm looking for this mentoring to be provided to new teachers and you could conceivably, I suppose, have someone who haÕs been teaching ten years in one system, come in; I donÕt know if they need a mentor or not.  Perhaps if weÕre talking about administrative kinds of issues and knowing how to do certain things administratively, I donÕt know if we need to specify that they need a mentor for that.  Thanks.  Thank you.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Kiel.  Senator Janssen, on the Bromm amendment, followed by Stuhr and Bromm.

 

SENATOR JANSSEN:  Thank you, Madam President and members of the Legislature.  I donÕt know whatÕs happening here, Senator Bromm, but I was just thinking about all new teachers that come into a system, what would happen if a reorganized district, all the teachers in that system would be new teachers.  Senator Bromm, would that be true?

 

SENATOR BROMM:  If the reorganization meant that they brought districts in that werenÕt part of their system before, yes.  Now if they were affiliated before or if they were a Class VI going

 

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to a III or something, then they wouldnÕt be new teachers because theyÕve all been part of the same system.

 

SENATOR JANSSEN:  I am talking about a Class III coming into another ...  reorganizing with another Class III system, man, I tell you what.  You could really get ...  you could really get a lot of points there on ...  under this system.  YouÕd probably win a first prize throughout the whole state because youÕd have mentors throughout your whole system.  Is that..is that possible?

 

SENATOR BROMM:  I ...  I think you...  I think you hit on a point there, Senator Janssen.

 

SENATOR JANSSEN:  You know, I canÕt understand someone thinking that a first-year teacher would be someone whoÕs taught for 20 years and moves to another system.  ThatÕs beyond my imagination anyone would think that that was a first-year.  I this bill,.  itÕs a first-year assumed, when we started with teacher the first year that that young man or young woman is in a system.  They do need some assistance there.  That was ...  that was great, but anyone that would think differently than that, I would like to talk to them.  Thank you.  ThatÕs all I had to say.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Janssen.  Senator Stuhr.

 

SENATOR STUHR:  Thank you, Madam Chairman and members of the Legislature.  Just a couple of comments, I think Senator Janssen probably brought up a good point in relationship to particularly reorganized schools, and I guess I would look at Senator BrommÕs amendment and maybe strike that last sentence.  But another point that I wanted to bring up, just in relationship to the .mentoring program is that I would like to have it on record that the State Board of Education consulted with the Educational Service Units, because many of these Educational Service Units have been providing mentor programs in the last 14 to 15 years.  So I would encourage them, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, that they would work very carefully in establishing the guidelines for this program.  Those are my comments.  Thank you.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Stuhr.  Senator Bromm.

 

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SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Senator Crosby.  If I could make my way quickly to the Clerk, I would like to ask leave to withdraw and substitute a different amendment.  May I do it on my time?

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  No objections, youÕre substituting.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Thank you, Senator Crosby.  I ...  I think a lot of my friend and neighbor, excuse me.

 

CLERK:  Senator, just so IÕm clear.  You are going to withdraw AM3918, then, is that right, Senator?  Or are you treating this as an amendment to 3918?

 

SENATOR BROMM:  No, this is a substitution.

 

CLERK:  Okay, 3918 is withdrawn then, is that right?  And youÕre now offering a new amendment.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  ThatÕs correct.

 

CLERK:  Okay.  Thank you, Senator.

 

SENATOR BROMM:  Okay.  I think a lot of Senator, my friend and neighbor, Senator Janssen, and rather than risk whatever was going to happen, I did this to the Honorable Senator CrosbyÕs spouse, and I donÕt want to do it to Senator Janssen.  I donÕt...  I donÕt want him to be ill, and so I am substituting a different amendment which would strike the language defining what a first-year teacher is.  in the way that that amendment defined it.  So my understanding from our previous floor discussion and the discussion weÕve had today is that a first-year teacher would be a teacher who has not taught previously as a full-time employed teacher, and thatÕs I think what our intent was on General File.  It strikes the language that says:  For purposes of this section, first-year teacher means a teacher who is teaching in a local system for the first time, and then Section 3 of that amendment with some language in another part of the amendment, dovetailing in with that, which I am also striking.  So what weÕre left with now is the words ÒFunding for mentor teacher programs shall be provided to local systems which provide each first-year teacher in the local

 

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system with a mentor.Ó And I think thatÕs the intent that we had and so IÕd ask adoption of this substituted amendment.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you, Senator Bromm.  Discussion on the substituted amendment?  Seeing none, Senator Bromm, would you like to close?  He waives closing.  The question is the adoption of the Bromm amendment to LB 1228.  All in favor vote aye, opposed no.  Voting on the Bromm amendment, have you all voted?  Record, please.

 

CLERK:  26 ayes, 0 nays, Madam President, on adoption of Senator BrommÕs amendment.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  The Bromm amendment is adopted.  Anything further?

 

CLERK:  I have nothing further on the bill, Madam President.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Thank you.,,.,,,:  Senator Bruning.,

 

SENATOR BRUNING:  Madam President, I move LB 1228 to E R for engrossing.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  YouÕve heard the motion to move L ...  L ...  youÕve heard the motion to move LB 1228 to E & R for engrossing, is that right?  A machine vote has been requested.  All in favor vote aye, opposed.  Record, please.

 

CLERK:  25 ayes, 2 nays, Madam President, on the advancement of 1228.

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  The bill advances.  Mr. Clerk, do you have any items for the record?

 

CLERK:  11 do, Madam President.  Senator Kristensen, amendments to (LB) 632 to be printed; Senator Wesely, (LB) 1108; Senator Tyson, 1108; Senator Coordsen, (LB) 924; Senator Preister,

Schimek, and Hilgert and Lynch to (LB) 989.  (See pages 1155-61 of the Legislative Journal.)

 

SENATOR CROSBY:  Mr. Speaker.

 

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