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On LB753: misinformation, lies, and the truth

The misplaced effort to repeal historic school choice legislation in Nebraska is now, thank God, in countdown mode. There are fewer than 30 days for opponents of school choice to collect signatures in the effort to repeal LB753, the Opportunity Scholarships Act.

Throughout the first 60 days of this inimical campaign to strip school choice out of the hands of parents and students, the amount of misinformation and outright lies against school choice have been a sight to see. In the 10 years I have been professionally involved in politics, I can honestly say, “I’ve never seen anything like it.” To quote Jackie Chiles, Kramer’s lawyer in Seinfeld: “It’s outrageous, egregious, preposterous.”

As a teaser, here are some real doozies that have been put forward by opponents of school choice. Petition signature gatherers have claimed things like: private schools don’t even feed their poor kids lunch; private school administrators are probably going to pocket $50,000 scholarships when these kids show up at their school; if you sign this petition, you are actually going to help kids get school choice; LB753 is about benefiting rich kids. I could go on and on with these crazed statements, but I’ll pull the plug on these for the time being.
I want to shift our attention to an important distinction. There are two things opponents of school choice are using to lobby against LB753.

The first is misinformation. The second are lies. What’s the difference?

First off, regarding misinformation. There are folks out there who, in their heart of hearts, don’t think LB753, which provides increased opportunities for students to receive scholarships to private schools, is a good idea. These folks oftentimes have not read the legislation. Their information about the law has come from other sources, which have caricatured school choice as public enemy number one.
When these folks provide information to the general public, they are simply misinformed. They believe they are spreading the truth, because they trust the sources from which they receive their information. I try not to find too much fault with these folks, even if their actions are doing great harm to increased educational opportunity for families.

The second are the lies. The folks who are engaged in out-and-out lies about school choice are those who “should know better”! They know that private schools are significantly regulated, but they turn around and depict the private school world as some sort of “Wild West” of education. They are the folks who claim a scholarship tax credit law is going to bankrupt and undermine public education funding, when at the very same time they haven’t raised their finger an inch to oppose the other dozens of tax credit programs. On top of that, they haven’t acknowledged the historic investments into public education Governor Pillen and the Nebraska Legislature made this last session. It is typically this group of people who are miseducating the folks who are misinformed.

Those spreading lies about school choice are to be pitied. It makes one wonder what resides so deep in their hearts that they would go to such lengths to stop low-income children — students who have been bullied, children with special needs, kids in military families, to name just a few groups who would benefit from LB753 — from experiencing the educational freedom of Opportunity Scholarships.

In these final weeks of the misinformation and campaign of lies against LB753, I urge you to spy the lies and call them out. If you need help doing so, visit and visit the “Resources” link for a page explaining myths vs. facts. Call out the misinformation and lies with charity and respectfully, but forthrightly.

The stakes of repealing school choice are high. Children get one shot at their K-12 education. While teachers and administrators are critical to a successful education, it’s parents who know their children best. And it is parents who God has given the primary right and responsibility to direct the education and upbringing of their children.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, Who is the Truth, we are called to be prophetic. This means we are called to speak in a way that moves the hearts of others to the Truth. My prayer for you is that you will be witnesses to the fundamental truths and values that underlie our historic school choice legislation that is under attack.

If you want to help us in the mission of keeping kids first, reach out any time to me or Jeremy Ekeler at the Nebraska Catholic Conference. God bless your efforts!

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