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Supreme Court ruling brings new momentum to the school choice movement in Nebraska

Court strikes down rule that excluded funding for religious schools in Maine
Posted at 7:08 PM, Jun 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-23 20:08:20-04

OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) — Parents have options on where they send their kid to school.

They could go public, or private.

"Parents are the first teachers. They are the most responsible for their children and they care about their children most," said State Senator Lou Ann Linehan.

Senator Linehan has been the biggest supporter of the school choice movement in the Unicameral. She wants vouchers or tax credits for parents paying for private schools.

But public school advocates argue that those programs take away resources, including funding from public schools. The idea is if you get the tax break for sending your kids to private school, then those are taxes that aren't going into the pool for public schools.

"What we worry is we want our public schools to be fully funded and we worry these sorts of programs will impede our ability to do that," said Daniel Rusell, executive director for Stand for Schools.

A recent Supreme Court decision regarding a Maine voucher program could shift the school choice debate in Nebraska.

Maine offered its own voucher programs but excluded religiously affiliated schools.

The Supreme Court ruled that exclusion violated the First Amendment of the constitution.

"We are hopeful this decision will embolden our legislature here in Nebraska to finally pass laws that provide real choice in education to families and students here in Nebraska," said Nate Grasz, policy director for the Nebraska Family Alliance.

It still remains to be seen if this new momentum will be enough to pass school choice legislation here in Nebraska, but it will certainly help school choice advocates like Linehan and the Nebraska Family Alliance.

"Nebraska is actually one of two remaining states in the entire country that doesn't have any real school choice legislation, so it's well past time that, for our state to take that next step," said Grasz

Linehan said she plans to introduce more School Choice legislation when the legislature reconvenes in January.

In Nebraska, 90% of students attend public schools.

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