Todd Gould, 17, a senior at Omaha Christian School, is uniformed in a red, white and blue blazer and a tie emblazoned with small American flags.

His school, like the other fundamentalist schools in Nebraska, is resisting state efforts to bring it in line with mainstream education in the state. Gould fully supports the assertion of independence.

"It has to do with our Christianity," he says. "It's not just about English or math. It's deeper than that. In our books, they insert scripture so we can learn about the bible and learn how to have a moral life and how to avoid drugs and liquor and perversion and all that.

"I went to public school once and I have some public school friends. In public school, drugs are everywhere. There's no getting away from it. Even the good kids can get stuck on drugs. There's just too much peer pressure. In public school I didn't really learn how to read real well. Now that I've gone to a Christian school, I've learned how to read much better. You do it all yourself in Christian school. You do your own pacing. If we don't understand something, we just put our flag up and our supervisor comes. He's a real intelligent man. He can explain anything, help you with everything.

"The main difference is that you learn to understand things yourself. It's not his understanding. It's my own understanding."

Gould says he's not angry about the conflict with the state that threatens the survival of many of these Christian schools. "We'd just like for them to understand what we're saying," he says. "There are freedoms in the Constitution. The Constitution is the main law of our land."