April 16, 2006

One City, One School District?

Filed under: — Chap @ 3:24 pm

That’s the bumper sticker (without the question mark) I see on school buses at home.

Apparently the latest move has gotten En Revanche thinking rather dramatically:

… in this day and age, I never dreamed anyone would seriously attempt to challenge Brown v. Board of Education.

The Nebraska State Legislature had other ideas... and the representative leading the charge for the re-segregation of the Omaha public schools is an African-American...

The current state of play is a bit different, and involves money and power and assets and the local towns.

Here’s a Sunday World-Herald piece that discusses one aspect of it, linked to remind people that relying on the AP isn’t always the best news about local stories.

Here’s a quick summary as I see it, likely misremembered.

The Nebraska state constitution has a section in it about schools. Omaha city decided that either it hadn’t been enforced and needed to be, or used it as a raw play for tax money from the suburbs and neighboring towns, depending on to whom you talk. At the same time, towns around Omaha are scrambling for all sorts of ways to avoid getting annexed as well as losing their control and tax base.

And there are sideshows, like the written agreement between Bellevue and Papillion for the S.I.D. region between them getting ambushed because one town’s got some aldermen who see Papillion getting richer and wants that tax base, so they’re trying to take the schools…ugly mess, that.

So anyway, there’s lots more to the schools division thing than the thrust of the article. Mainly that if you want to see folk get ugly, mess with their schools or taxes.

I still don’t see the plus of government issue schooling, though. Education’s one of the thornier questions of raising a preschooler, I guess…

3 Responses to “One City, One School District?”

  1. Mike Says:

    “or used it as a raw play for tax money from the suburbs and neighboring towns”

    This is basically the way I see it. Both the Elkhorn and Millard takeovers seem like a pretty raw deal to me, especially the Millard play since it came out of nowhere, what with OPS reneging on their agreement with the Millard District.

    Thanks for the OWH article link. I’d heard about the “segregation” proposal, but didn’t know that it was tied to basically creating one big school district in the entire metro area. I really can’t see the suburbs going for this, because I think they stand a pretty good chance of somehow getting the 1891 law overturned. If they do agree to the proposal on the table, they’re going to be forced to fund lower income predominantly minority areas of Omaha.

    “I still don’t see the plus of government issue schooling, though.”

    Yep. Couldn’t agree more.

  2. Bubblehead Says:

    From what I read, Ernie Chambers is for it, so it can’t be designed to be against the interests of the city’s African-American community. A lot of people in Nebraska don’t like Ernie, but I’ve always thought he was a straight shooter.

  3. Barry Campbell Says:

    You might want to don your irony-protective suits at this point; a dyed-in-the-wool, wild-eyed libertarian is going to defend government-funded (“government-issue”) public oschooling.

    (1) An educated populace is a necessary (but not sufficient) requirement for a functioning democracy.

    (2) Universal public education is a common feature of every country in the developed world; while private school and home-schooling options are available virtually everywhere in the First World these days, a relatively small fraction of the population takes advantage of these opportunities. (In the US, fewer than 10% of students attend private schools, including parochial/religious schools, and less than 2% of the student population is home-schooled.)

    (3) While initiatives like voucher programs might bring the numbers up somewhat for private schools and home-schooling, the fact remains that government-funded schools are now and will continue to be the only educational option available to the vast majority of American students.

    Thus, the big advantage of government-funded education is *that it’s there* — it is the only practical alternative for the vast majority of the students in America — and our objective as citizens should be to make sure that it is of the highest possible quality, whether or not we have children in the system. (Agitating for the funding of superior private alternatives is also a noble cause, but realism is called for; there is not a single nation in the developed world that relies primarily on privately funded schools to educate the majority of their population.)

    I attended an Episcopalian parochial school as a small child, and North Carolina public schools as an adolescent. There are *many* very good public school systems out there at the moment, and I think the education I received in the public schools was every bit as good as its private equivalent.

    There are, indeed, deeply dysfunctional public schools (and entire school systems, for that matter) in our country. Providing better private alternatives to them is a grand thing and should be encouraged; letting parents “vote with their feet” and opt for public or private charter schools is something I’m 100% behind.

    But I think we’d better understand that the public schooling model is what we’ve got and what we’re going to be stuck with for a while.

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