Stand for Schools leader defends public education

Ann Hunter-Pirtle, Stand For Schools executive director, shares her message about preserving and strengthening Nebraska’s public schools with the Noon Rotary on Wednesday at Another Round Sports Bar & Grill in North Platte.

Stand for Schools Executive Director Ann Hunter-Pirtle shared her passion for preserving and strengthening Nebraska’s public schools Wednesday.

She presented that message to the Noon Rotary at Another Round Sports Bar & Grill. Hunter-Pirtle is a Lincoln native and graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“I did have just amazing opportunities in Nebraska public schools,” Hunter-Pirtle said. “For five years before I started Stand for Schools, I’ve been working on environmental policy in Washington, D.C. It may sound a little cheesy, but it’s really true that it was my public school education, plain and simple, that prepared me to do what I wanted to do in the world.”

She said she would put her Nebraska public school education against any private East Coast prep school any day.

The organization’s website states that “Nebraska has developed public schools that work.”

“Our state boasts the second-highest high school graduation rate in the country, one of the nation’s top ACT scores, and the seventh-highest college-going rate in the nation,” it reads. “The vast majority of Nebraskans, nearly 80 percent, support public education, according to recent Gallup polls. We know public education works, and we need to pursue further improvements to meet our state’s changing needs.”

Hunter-Pirtle said her organization was started in response to a call from some policymakers for school privatization, such as charter schools, or scholarship vouchers or tax credits. She said such policies would further impact the state’s struggle to fund public education.

“All of these essentially would take funding away from public schools and send it toward private options,” Hunter-Pirtle said. “But as we got started, we also realized very quickly that there was a huge need for advocacy to help public schools serve all kids better.”

The emphasis of the organization, she said, is to support the public schools’ history of success and to find innovative ways to make them stronger.

The organization’s website, standforschools.org, has information on its message and opportunities to get involved.

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