Nebraska's school choice program, the Opportunity Scholarships Act, sets aside $25 million per year in tax credits for individuals or entities that donate to nonprofit scholarship organizations. In turn, those organizations disburse the donations to low-income families to help them send their children to private K-12 schools.
Claiming that the program will harm public schools and low-income families, while benefiting the rich, the National Education Association (NEA) has given the Support Our Schools Nebraska $800,000, and its state affiliate has added another $60,000 to the effort.
The association's campaign to kill school choice reportedly "reflects the general increase in political spending from teachers' unions in recent years—spending that almost exclusively goes to Democrats and liberal causes."
"For national organizations to partner with state organizations to … say this will harm public schools is just not an honest statement," asserts Karen Bowling, executive director of the Nebraska Family Alliance.
She points out that when the legislature enacted the school choice program, lawmakers also passed a budget with a "historic" increase of nearly $1 billion for public schools.
The school choice program specifically prioritizes special needs students, students in foster care, students who come from military families, and families with a household income that does not exceed 100% of the federal poverty level.
Support Our Schools Nebraska is led by Tim Royers, who is president of the local NEA affiliate, the Millard Education Association. He is working to collect enough signatures from registered voters to force a referendum that would revoke the Opportunity Scholarships Act.
Meanwhile, Keep Kids First is organizing voters who support the policy to make it known that "the teachers' union views opportunity scholarships as a threat to their control over the classroom, kids, parents, and the taxpayers."