West Point-Beemer Superintendent Says 'Local Control Is The Way To Go' in Education Reform

A bill that would keep third graders from moving to the next grade if they don't meet reading standards faced opposition at Tuesday's hearing before the Nebraska Legislature's Education Committee. Sen. Scott Lautenbaugh of Omaha introduced the bill.

Parents and those representing education associations were among the opposition to the bill. A former state board of education member testified in support of the bill and two people testified in a neutral position.

Lautenbaugh says the bill comes from education reform efforts that were successful elsewhere, particularly in Florida.

West Point-Beemer Superintendent Ted DeTurk has been monitoring the debate. While he respects Lautenbaugh's passion for education, he thinks his bill is a simplistic answer to a complex problem.

"Every kid is an individual," DeTurk told the 840 KTIC newsroom. "And I think to simply say you're going to be at this level or you're going to be retained without parental input or involvement, etc, is just simplifying the process."

DeTurk says they operate differently at West Point-Beemer.

"Rather than put a student in their particular grade, we try to put them in their particular ability level. So you may walk into an elementary classroom in West Point or Beemer and you may see a second grader with a first grader and a second grader with a third grader. So in that one class, you've got first, second and third graders all working at one ability level. It's an easier tie for our teachers, constantly challenging their students at their level."

The bill would also establish a grading system for school performance and would provide for alternative ways to earn a teaching certification.

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