This bill attached is old, but the issue is still fresh. We had Dell Gines (www.dellgines.com) out of Omaha, NE (yes - Black folks roam the deep midwest) on ASCENT LIVE! to discuss the increasingly contentious and muddled situation down there.
First, we find this CNN article a little messed up http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/04/14/omaha.schools.ap/,
if not a tad bit insulting and liberally paternalistic. Nebraska State Sen. Patrick Bourne (D-Omaha), pictured in the CNN article, did not author L.B. 1024, a bill dividing the Omaha Public School System into three districts - one Black, one White, one Latino. The Nebraska State Legislature's lone Black Senator, Ernie Chambers (D-Omaha), presented this, and why he doesn't get a respectful mug spread for this redefining moment that could re-shift the face of public education as we know it rips at us some. Maybe it's not about Chambers, per se, but about the fact that he's a hard cat to catch these days, with no voicemail or working email.
Yet, the classic or typical way to look at this is to say Chambers engaged in a bit of reverse racism or he single-handedly deconstructed decades of civil rights progress since Brown v. Board of Education. True: it is somewhat strange, somewhat odd that after years of fighting for equal access that you suddenly make a U-turn. But, we should also point out that Chambers may be on to something, a way to get buzz started over the problem of quality education for African American youth. As Gines put it in his blog, integration was not the final objective of the civil rights movement - that was merely the first stage.
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman eagerly signed off on this, because - as far as Nebraska is concerned - let the Black people deal with Black people's problems. We hope that in selecting leadership for an all-Black school district, Omaha's African American residents don't allow skin color authenticity to trump credentials and merit. In addition, we question exactly how funding will be doled out to these new school districts and who makes the final decision on where the money comes from and where it goes.