When I speak to people about Quality Education, I talk about the "Nebraska Miracle." The "Nebraska Miracle" is this: Our children and grandchildren score nationally in the Top 10 academically but Nebraska ranks 45th in the nation in average teachers' salary. As no one can explain this disparity, it must be a miracle.
Will the miracle last? Some facts lead me to believe that we should be concerned about the future of Nebraska's quality education:
*Almost one-half of Nebraska's teachers will reach retirement age in the next 5 years.
*Every state around Nebraska, except for South Dakota, has higher teacher salaries - some significantly higher.
*Most graduates of UNL's Teachers College (and all other colleges) leave school with a substantial student loan burden.
*Almost one-third of new teachers nationwide leave teaching after only 3 years with one of the top reasons being low salary.
*Nebraska ranks 45th nationally in average teacher salary.
In my view, these facts threaten a future of lower quality K-12 education in Nebraska.
As the next State Senator from District 21, I will prioritize funding for teacher salaries.
There are workable solutions to raising teacher salaries. For example, we could follow the lead of Iowa and Wyoming, which passed laws declaring that they would match the national average teacher salary.
Another remedy is to establish an Education Trust Fund. The Education Trust Fund would be established by transferring $100 million from the State's Cash Reserve Fund (which now has a $500 million surplus). Only the interest from the Trust Fund would be spent to improve teacher salaries -- the principal would remain intact, and hopefully, increase whenever the state had surplus revenues available.
There is no better gift to our children and grandchildren, no better investment in our economic future, than to transform the "Nebraska Miracle" into a "Nebraska Commitment to Quality Education."
If you are concerned about Quality Education, I hope you will join in my campaign to become the next State Senator from District 21.