"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Saturday, April 29, 2006

NCLB Dividing and Conquering in Omaha

This story from Knight-Ridder provides some history on the surprise vote two weeks ago to officially institute apartheid schooling in Omaha. With the survival of their own schools threatened by NCLB requirements, white parents of Omaha rose up in opposition to the local campaign to bring the city together under the banner, "One City, One School District." Here is a clip:
In June, Omaha Superintendent John Mackiel cited an 1891 state law to argue that any home or school within the city limits rightfully belonged in his district. Mackiel, who is white, sought to direct more money to inner-city schools racked by a weakening tax base.

Civic and business leaders, including billionaire Warren Buffett, endorsed this "One City, One School District" plan as a way of correcting 1970s-era white flight, in which developing suburbs hurried to form or expand their own school systems. Many of the new suburbanites still lived within Omaha's borders, but their children attended school in a different district.

To most of those residents last summer, however, the sudden unveiling of "One City, One School District" had all the appeal of an unwanted neighbor banging at their doors.

"No thanks!" screamed yard signs at the edges of Omaha.

The Nebraska Legislature had to settle the issue.

No white school in Omaha or anywhere else wants poor brown or black students who are going to bring down their scores, thus their chances at the surviving the inherently racist NCLB requirements for adequate yearly progress (AYP). Nor do they want to give up any funding to black or brown schools that might jeopardize their own chances at survival. NCLB, in fact, very cleverly undergirds any overt racist sentiments that are expressed by returning to segregated schools and in turning back social advances of the past hundred years.

See this commentary called "Jim Crow Moves to Omaha" from the Toledo Blade.

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