Strange doings in Omaha
Nebraska state legislators are struggling with what to do to improve education in Omaha:
State lawmakers on Wednesday introduced several bills aimed at resolving issues facing the state’s largest school district, Omaha Public Schools.
The plans follow a decision last year by the Legislature to break the district into three parts and put the 11 school districts in Douglas and Sarpy counties under a governance umbrella called a learning community. Lawsuits followed the law, and a judge has put the law’s implementation on hold.
One bill introduced Wednesday (LB547) aims to ensure the breakup never happens. Introduced by Sen. Gail Kopplin of Gretna, the measure would also maintain current boundaries of school districts in both Douglas and Sarpy counties. It has the backing of 10 superintendents in Douglas and Sarpy counties.
Sen. Ron Raikes of Lincoln, meanwhile, introduced several bills related to OPS, including one that would create a new governing structure with the goal of giving seven high schools in the area more local control. The schools would be grouped into so-called education centers with elected boards. Each board would then have representation on the board overseeing the entire Class V district.
Another bill (LB473), introduced by Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, would maintain the planned breakup of OPS but merge one district, Westside, into the Omaha district.
I last wrote about the situation in Omaha here. The legislative plan would have broken up the Omaha district into three segregated districts: one majority-white, one majority-black, and one majority-Hispanic. On the one hand, doing something thi drastic might actualy lead to self-empowerment and responsibility. On the other hand, this could be a gigantic leap back into the worst days in American education.