State teachers union launches campaign to highlight public education, push back on effort to fund private schools

By: - August 29, 2022 12:05 pm

The Nebraska State Education Association, the state teachers’ union, is launching a campaign to highlight public school success stories. (Courtesy of NSEA)

LINCOLN — The Nebraska teachers union will push a “Public School Proud” public relations campaign this fall to counter efforts to divert public funds to private schools.

The Nebraska State Education Association said a grant from the National Education Association will help fund the five-week television, radio and digital campaign this fall.

NSEA President Jenni Benson, in a press release Sunday, said the campaign’s goal is to “advance a culture of racial and social justice by improving educational opportunities for all students and building respect for the worth, dignity and equality of every individual in our diverse society.”

The campaign will feature “success stories” of public schools.

Among those appearing in the campaign are Iggy Machuca, owner of a Norfolk construction firm; Mindy Diller, a family and consumer science teacher from Lincoln; Cammy Watkins, co-executive director at Inclusive Communities of Omaha; Joseline Reyna of the Grand Island YWCA; and Tracy Hartman-Bradley, Native American specialist for Omaha Public Schools.

The NSEA pointed out that the campaign comes as some advocates for private schools are “denigrating public education and increasing efforts to divert state tax dollars away from public schools.”

This spring, a filibuster in the Nebraska Legislature blocked a bill to allow a state tax credit for “opportunity scholarships,” which public school advocates see as a roundabout way to provide public funds to private schools.

Advocates for private schools say some students who don’t do well in public schools have thrived after transferring to parochial or private schools.


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Paul Hammel
Paul Hammel

Senior Reporter Paul Hammel has covered the Nebraska state government and the state for decades. Previously with the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha Sun, he is a member of the Omaha Press Club's Hall of Fame. He grows hops, brews homemade beer, plays bass guitar and basically loves traveling and writing about the state. A native of Ralston, Nebraska, he is vice president of the John G. Neihardt Foundation.