Nebraska State Senator Justin Wayne — a Democrat — broke from his party to support school choice legislation.
Nebraska’s state legislature recently considered a bill to give full tax credits to any donation made toward private school scholarships for low-income students. Though the legislation failed, progressive lawmakers from Omaha formed alliances with conservatives to support education opportunities for students stuck in failing public schools.
As featured by school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis on social media, Wayne — who represents Florence and parts of North Omaha — repeatedly confronted lawmakers unwilling to pass the legislation. In one exchange with a Democratic colleague, Wayne expressed frustration over the notion that fixing Omaha’s schools could take five decades.
“Did you say it would take about 50 years to fix Omaha [schools]?” Wayne asked State Senator Matt Hansen, who responded “Yes.”
“So what are we going to tell parents in the meantime when they are looking for choice?” Wayne pressed. After a lengthy pause, Hansen replied: “I mean, honestly, I don’t know.”
In another viral exchange, Wayne asked his colleagues if they sent their students to schools in his district, as well as the district of Democratic State Senator Terrell McKinney — a challenge Wayne presented one year ago. “Just curious if anybody did that,” he said. “Anybody move their kid … so we can go through the [transformation] that you keep telling my community to wait for together?”
“Okay, so nobody did that,” Wayne continued after waiting for a response. “But your kids did go to private school.”
Though Democrats typically oppose them, school choice programs are extremely popular among the Democrats’ minority voting base. As early as 2019, nearly 60% of black Democrats held favorable views of school choice, while only 31% held unfavorable views. Hispanic Democrats indicated 52% favorability, while 30% were unfavorable.
Over the past two years, however, education has become an increasingly salient voting issue as Critical Race Theory and LGBTQ ideology overrun American public schools. States have therefore been weighing various education reform measures — including bills to implement school choice and ban “wokeness” from the classroom.
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