Letter to the Editor

Support LB 476

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dear Editor,

The intention of this letter is to rally support for Legislative Bill 476. This is a vital issue to the future of Nebraska's Career Student Organizations (CSOs) which include FBLA, FCCLA, FFA, DECA, HOSA and SkillsUSA. As educators, we realize the value of these programs to student success in life and we also recognize that students who succeed in improving their community now through these CSOs are the students who return to support their communities in the future.

There are currently nearly 20,000 Nebraska students participating in one of more CSO groups each year. There is an organization for students interested in almost any area. Students participate in life-based marketing exercises in DECA, explore cutting edge technological advances in industry and engineering in SkillsUSA, discover career opportunities in health care in HOSA and promote success and ethical business practices in FBLA. FCCLA members learn how to become community leaders through public speaking and public service, while FFA members investigate career success through competition and achieve personal growth through leadership activities. Of the 306 public high schools in our state, 300 of them offer one or more CSO for student membership.

Many people don't understand the need for LB 476. This bill requires the Nebraska Department of Education to establish and administer the Nebraska Center for Student Leadership and Extended Learning. This "center" is not an actual building -- rather, it will be a center of operations within the Nebraska Department of Education to ensure that state administration for Nebraska Career Student Organizations (CSOs) is properly funded and supported. The monetary amount LB 476 requires for the center is a minimum of $450,000 per year.

This amount is essential for Nebraska CSOs to continue to function at the state level. The money provided by LB 476 is not the only funding that CSOs receive -- however, it is essential for state level operations. Federal dollars from the Perkins Act provide "matched funds" for the CSOs, and students pay annual dues. The student dues cover registration fees for conferences and activities, facility rental, meals and materials. The LB 476 money would be focused on the state level to support salaries for professional staff and general operating expenses for administration such as travel, technology and communication costs.

If LB 476 does not pass, the sad reality is that Nebraska CSOs will no longer be able to function at the state level. Current funding provides for Nebraska CSOs until July of 2010 -- after that point, many student activities will be lost. Without LB 476, there will be no CSO state conferences, no state awards for individuals or schools, no coordination with national associations for awards or competition, no state officers, no leadership camps or conferences and no state level competitive events.

If Nebraska CSOs are lost due to funding issues, thousands of students will lose the opportunity to network with other students of similar interests, earn scholarships and achieve personal success through the various individual award programs. Students will no longer be able to explore career fields while having fun in a competitive environment -- and the development of many future leaders will be left incomplete.

To support LB 476, please call, e-mail or write your State Senator, along with Senator Stuthman (sponsor of the bill) and Senator Adams, Chairman of the Education Committee. Although this bill recently passed through the committee level, support is still needed to pass it through at the intended monetary amount on the floor. It is scheduled to be debated on the floor this Monday (4/27) and Tuesday (4/28). Please ask the senators to fully fund LB 476 and support its passage.

The future of Nebraska's communities depends on your involvement!

For further information, please contact any local CSO advisor or visit the Web site www.supportstudentleaders.com.


Josh Schieber

McCook FFA Advisor

Tonya Mortensen

Medicine Valley FFA Advisor

Doug Babbit

Perkins County FFA Advisor

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