Nebraska: State legislature debates putting more social workers into schools

Mar 12, 2018, Nebraska PBS/NPR: Plan For More Social Workers In Schools Stalls In Legislature A proposal aimed at getting more social workers into the schools to help students and families with mental health problems stalled in the Legislature Monday. The proposal by Sen. Lynne Walz would put a social worker in each of the state’s 17 educational service units. Those are regional organizations that supply services to the state’s school districts. They are funded by property taxes. But Walz’ proposal would use no government funding at first. Instead, it would not go into effect until $3.6 million in private funding is collected – enough to cover the first three years of the program. … Sen. Matt Williams supported the proposal. Williams said it could help situations like one last week where one of his daughter’s Gothenburg High School students was removed and charged with making terroristic threats. … Sen. Mike Groene, chairman of the Education Committee, opposed the bill. Groene said the proposal typifies the way problems in schools are discussed these days. “We have a problem – yes, folks. Children are mentally ill now. They have behavioral health. They don’t disobey, and if you’re religious, they don’t have a sin nature. They’re mentally ill, Groene said. Referring to the bill, Groene said “It’s well-meaning -- I wanted it on the floor so the public out there listening can understand what’s going on. It’s no longer about reading that we hear about or math or civics. It’s about we gotta have psychologists and social workers and health professionals in our schools. That’s where we’re at in education these days. That’s all I‘ve heard since I became chairman of the Education Committee,” he said.