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The Public Pulse: Sex education debate; Need for property tax relief

The Public Pulse: Sex education debate; Need for property tax relief

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Sound sex-ed proposal

As a grandparent and former health education teacher, I would like to share my reaction with the governor, the Nebraska Department of Education, and Nebraska parents regarding the proposed sex education standards.

Contrary to the governor’s March 11 statement, the proposed standards do not contain “age-inappropriate content,” nor do they “inject non-scientific, political ideas into curriculum standards.” Since the mid-1990s, nationally recognized, medically accurate sex education curriculum has included these same age-appropriate topics. Many public school districts in Nebraska have taught much of this content. The problem is that since this content has been viewed by some as controversial, the majority of Nebraska school districts have not provided this essential learning to their students.

The argument that these sensitive topics should be “addressed by parents at home” has been used for decades to justify banning sex education in the schools. Teachers recognize the crucial role of parents as their children’s first and most important sex education teacher. However, the vast majority of parents welcome and support the role that trained health teachers play in teaching sex education in partnership with them.

It appears that the governor is the one who is politicizing this important educational effort. Thank you to the team of educators who wrote the proposed standards and also to the advisory team who shared their expertise in reviewing them.

I urge all Nebraska parents to question the governor’s inaccurate characterization of the draft sex education standards. Please read them for yourself and decide if this is content that you wish you had been taught when you were in school.

Marybell Avery, Ph.D., Lincoln, Nebraska

Troubling proposal

As a current high school student in Nebraska, I am appalled by the recent draft of “health education standards” that were released by the Nebraska Department of Education. I am speaking out on this because the ideas that are in this draft could affect not only myself but my younger siblings who will remain in the public education system for several more years.

This draft proposes teaching fourth graders that sex and gender are different, teaching sixth graders about gender identities such as two-spirit and pansexual, and much more. I can clearly and without reservation say that this will cause more harm than good. Teaching students anti-science concepts like this will only further confusion and cause more distrust in the public school system. Going against the morals of many and the well-known biological facts of gender for the sake of inclusivity will only further the divide in our state, and it is something that I will not stand for.

As a leader, as a Christian, and as an American, it is one of my responsibilities to speak out against things such as this to ensure that our society still puts value in truth and morals.

Bryce Johnson, Omaha

Needed education

What a joke! Gov. Ricketts doesn’t want to provide sex education and awareness to students, but he doesn’t want to provide abortions either. So, is he going to adopt all children born “out of wedlock,” or does he plan on suing/jailing all sperm donors who produce the “unwanted pregnancies”?

I’d certainly rather have today’s children receive their sex education from a well-informed teacher instead of their computer or their dad’s old Playboys hiding in the back of his closet. As we celebrate women’s rights and suffrage, maybe it’s time to look at responsibilities when it entails a pregnancy. A female person cannot have an unplanned pregnancy on her own — or wasn’t that covered in your parental discourse regarding sex?

And these state health standards aren’t just about sex, but gender orientation, different parenting profiles and appropriate vs. inappropriate touching among other topics. If these topics were discussed by all school children years ago, maybe we could have prevented many teen suicides or pregnancies, or playground bullying or drug/alcohol abuse, never mind all the sexual allegations regarding our elected officials.

Teach these standards in our schools and give every parent a copy to further their education as well. Dare to see what changes could be made in everyone’s lives. After all, the model of having parents teaching their children about sexual issues hasn’t worked all that well, has it?

Kathy Hoyt, Omaha

Tax relief imperative

After reading Palma Strand’s March 14 op-ed piece, two quick thoughts entered my mind.

First, if person is drowning, he or she doesn’t care if the life preserver is not brand new or has a chunk missing from it. They need help any way they can get it. We are drowning in this state under the heavy burden of property taxes and continual property tax growth. It is hurting the state, as many people are fleeing the state to avoid this.

Second, she calls it a tax shift. Of course it is. For decades property taxpayers have had this particular tax increase continually to where they pay a far more disproportionate percentage of government revenue than the other taxpayers who are not paying property taxes. This proposal is just getting property taxes as a percentage of state and local revenue back to where it was historically intended.

I find it amusing in an unfunny way that any property tax relief proposal is met with feigned disbelief that anyone could suggest such an idea; they never put forth an alternate solution. In my mind, proposing relief for the needy when their taxes are a “real financial burden “ is just more legislatures deciding who is burdened and who isn’t. It is basically just the status quo. The status quo is not a solution.

Ms. Strand states other taxes will be a burden. Why not determine who pays sales taxes, licensing fees extra based on their income? It would be a bureaucratic nightmare. Property taxes are a poor way to raise such a high percentage of revenue. Don’t we want people buying homes, building homes, hiring plumbers, carpenters etc.? Don’t we want people establishing roots in our community?

Mike Dohmen, Hickman, Neb.

A price paid

Former President Obama, in a recent interview, said that he believes reparations are justified. The former president, and those who agree with him, must not have been paying attention in their history class when the Civil War was covered. 620,000 Americans died fighting that war to purge this country of slavery. At that time in our history, the population of the U.S. was about 30 million people; less than 10% of our current population. That would be like fighting a war that killed over 6 million people based on today’s population. A hefty price has already been paid.

Dave Reeble, Elkhorn

Our energy future

Thank you, Randy Essex, for writing “Texas power outage leads to another needless partisan fact blackout” (Feb. 24). You clearly state that to solve the energy problem, people in both political parties need to simply tell the truth and work together to solve the problem.

America is too reliant on fossil fuel energy sources from millions of years ago. We need our industries and entrepreneurs to move us into the 21st century with new power sources and storage devices.

To make that happen more quickly, we need Sens. Fischer and Sasse, along with Reps. Fortenberry, Bacon and Smith, to support a bill like last year’s bipartisan Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. OPPD’s board and CEO should let them know they think this is the best bill for their customer/owners. Two board members, Sara Howard and Mary Spurgeon, have publicly endorsed this bill. At more than one town hall meeting, Rep. Bacon called this bill the best one he had seen dealing with energy issues.

With a new president and Congress that seem determined to pass energy legislation, we need our members of Congress to work with past sponsors of this bill to make sure this year’s version is a good fit for Nebraska. People say Nebraska is the Saudi Arabia of potential wind power. The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act will help the free market create many new, good paying jobs in our state.

Mark Welsch, Omaha

co-leader, Citizens’ Climate Lobby,

Omaha chapter volunteer

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