A Democratic state senator in Nebraska is standing up to members of his own party, asking them what lawmakers should tell parents as they continue denying them access to school choice.
Sen. Justin Wayne (D) made the comments as the Nebraska state legislature considered — and rejected — a bill that would have granted residents full tax credits on any donations they made toward private school scholarships for low-income students currently unable to get into those schools, KMTV-TV reported.
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During one tense exchange with a Democratic colleague, Wayne asked how politicians should tell concerned parents that it will take five decades to fix Omaha’s broken public school system.
“Did you say it would take about 50 years to fix Omaha [schools]?” Wayne asked fellow state Sen. Matt Hanson, who replied, “Yes.”
“So what are we going to tell parents in the meantime, when they are looking for choice?” Wayne followed up.
Hanson responded, “I mean, honestly, I don’t know.”
This is not the first time Wayne has taken his fellow Democrats to the mat on this issue.
In April 2021, the state legislator pointed to what he sees as a glaring hypocrisy regarding school choice, telling his fellow lawmakers he’s struck by the fact that “the only people who are opposing school choice today are the same people who have choice, and many of them exercise that choice.”
Wayne admitted he was initially opposed to school choice legislation, but has since changed his mind on the matter because his community, he said, “can’t wait any more.”
“So here’s my offer,” Wayne said. “To all of the people here who have kids, here’s my offer: I will vote to kill this bill if you send your kids to one of the kids’ schools in my district that we’re waiting to turn around.”
Wayne said this week that no one has taken him up on his offer.
“Nobody did that,” he said. “But your kids did go to private school.”
One of the primary concerns among the Democrats who oppose the school choice legislation is the fact that taxpayer monies would be given to private schools, many of which are religiously affiliated.
Most of the schools are Christian and, according to state Sen. Megan Hunt, would discriminate against LGBTQ kids.
“It’s not appropriate for public money, tax dollars, to fund that type of bigotry and discrimination,” she said.
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