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Show Me the Research!

(North Platte Public School Board Members Reject Parent's Request)

I all my years of researching Outcome-Based Education, I have been constantly told to ask for copies of the research gathered from school administrators and school board members. The point made to me is this: if they have completed their homework, and researched the issue to make an informed decision; they should be able to supply you with copies. They should be able to at least talk with you and explain their results. Results that formulated their stance on favoring OBE or not favoring OBE.

So, in the fall of 1995, I took the advice that so many people provided me. There was no intent to harass. There was no intent to ridicule. The main intent was to see if they actually did research on OBE. Secondly was to see if there was information I missed that may change my stance on opposing Outcome Based Education in North Platte, Nebraska.

I sent out two different letters. One version was to three board members who I did not run against in the general election for the school board. Those members are/were: Jack Engdahl, Pat Stockham, and Ernie Mehl. The other version went to three members I did run against in the general election. Those members are David Pederson, Dr. Ron Asher, and Linda Rousey.

The following is the letter text I sent to Engdahl, Stockham, and Mehl:

October 16, 1995

Mr. Ernie Mehl ############ North Platte, NE 69103

Mr. Mehl:

I am writing this letter in hopes of receiving an explanation of your views on Outcome-Based Education (High Performance Learning, Performance Based Education).

As I am not sure of your stance on this issue, I would appreciate you sending me an explanation and any copies of information on OBE you have gathered to formulate your opinion. You may send the information to the address below.

I look forward to receiving the information.


Brian C. Bruns


North Platte, NE 69101

The following is the letter text I sent to Pederson, Dr. Asher, and Rousey:

October 16, 1995

Mr. David Pederson


North Platte, NE 69101

Mr. Pederson:

I am writing you this letter to request some information from you concerning you stance on Outcome-Based Education.

As we are both aware, you have supported the use of OBE (High Performance Learning, Performance Based Education) in the North Platte Public Schools. Although I do not agree with you position on this matter, I must respect it as your own. Being an effective board member, it is my hope you have done extensive research into the positives and negatives of using an OBE approach in the district.

With this in mind, would you please provide me with copies of research you have done to develop your opinion on OBE? They me be sent to the address below.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Brian C. Bruns


North Platte, NE 69101

Responses varied to my requests. Jack Engdahl, Pat Stockham, and Linda Rousey did not respond in any way. Ernie Mehl called and was willing to discuss the matter, but would not provide copies of any research. This lack of response was disturbing enough. The most disturbing were the responses of David Pederson, and Dr. Ron Asher. Here is David Pederson’s response:

October 18, 1995

Mr. Brian C. Bruns


North Platte, NE 69101

Dear Brian:

I have received you letter of October 16. I was expecting that after the disastrous presentation made by the “expert” you brought in to speak, some of obsession with this non-issue would have subsided. The Administration and Board have more productive things to do than respond to your harassment. I am not going to waste any more time than it takes to write this letter to tell you that I will not respond to your request.

Very truly yours, (signed)

David Pederson


pc: Dr. Chris Richardson

The expert Mr. Pederson was referring to was Charlotte Iserbyt, noted speaker on issue of OBE. Mrs. Iserbyt was employed in the Education Department during the Reagan administration, seeing first hand the programs being implemented, the research results of programs, and the money sent to states for such programs. Also, if Mr. Pederson would have checked into her presentation, he would have found out that I had nothing to do with bringing Mrs. Iserbyte to North Platte.

The following is Dr. Ron Asher’s response:

(on office letterhead)

January 25, 1996

Mr. Brian Bruns


North Platte, NE 69101

Dear Mr. Bruns:

I apologize for getting back to you so late. I was a bit nonplussed by the request so I decided to sit it on the back burner while I thought about issues and obviously I have kept it on the back burner for quite a long time.

One of the key issues in OBE is the definition. Over the past several years it is apparent that the definition varies considerably depending upon whose opinion is sought. I think there are some principles that I support whereas I would oppose a number of the issues that are also included under the OBE umbrella.

One of the principles I do support is the looking at outcomes. One might substitute phrases in terms such as results or goals. I would like to choose a phrase of borrowed recent approaches in the field of medicine and that is principle of evidence based decision making.

I would recommend for your reading Titus 3, verses 9 through 11.

Best Wishes,


Ronald L. Asher, M.D. RLA/rb

As you can see, no research offered and no research presented by these (at the time) North Platte Public Schools board members.

What conclusions can be drawn from the responses? It seems to me and people I showed the letters to they had no research to base their opinion on. If they did, they should have been more than happy to present it to me to change my opinion.

And by the way, in case you are wondering what was contained in the bible verse Dr. Asher suggested I read:

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, you have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful, he is self-condemned.”

Is this the way you would want to be treated by elected members of the school your children go to?