Integration. Separation. Segregation. Does any of it matter? - Printable Version
+- Forum | The Liberator Magazine (http://www.liberatormagazine.com/community)
+-- Forum: Open Discussion (/forumdisplay.php?fid=1)
+--- Forum: Culture x Art x Philosophy x History x Science x Math x Economics x Techology x Politics (/forumdisplay.php?fid=5)
+--- Thread: Integration. Separation. Segregation. Does any of it matter? (/showthread.php?tid=123)
Pages: 1 2
Integration. Separation. Segregation. Does any of it matter? - brianold - 03-23-2006 04:01 PM
this topic will be a space to discuss various theories of separation and integration and for folks to voice their thoughts, comments and concerns either way.
but this article below is an interesting place to start. what does this say about the seperate but equal theory? and its relation to other groups in the US who may desire to do the same?
Assyrian International News Agency
The Islamist Challenge to the U.S. Constitution
Posted GMT 3-22-2006 0:47:8
First in Europe and now in the United States, Muslim groups have petitioned to establish enclaves in which they can uphold and enforce greater compliance to Islamic law. While the U.S. Constitution enshrines the right to religious freedom and the prohibition against a state religion, when it comes to the rights of religious enclaves to impose communal rules, the dividing line is more nebulous. Can U.S. enclaves, homeowner associations, and other groups enforce Islamic law?
Such questions are no longer theoretical. While Muslim organizations first established enclaves in Europe, the trend is now crossing the Atlantic. Some Islamist community leaders in the United States are challenging the principles of assimilation and equality once central to the civil rights movement, seeking instead to live according to a separate but equal philosophy. The Gwynnoaks Muslim Residential Development group, for example, has established an informal enclave in Baltimore because, according to John Yahya Cason, director of the Islamic Education and Community Development Initiative, a Baltimore-based Muslim advocacy group, "there was no community in the U.S. that showed the totality of the essential components of Muslim social, economic, and political structure."
Baltimore is not alone. In August 2004, a local planning commission in Little Rock, Arkansas, granted The Islamic Center for Human Excellence authorization to build an internal Islamic enclave to include a mosque, a school, and twenty-two homes. While the imam, Aquil Hamidullah, says his goal is to create "a clean community, free of alcohol, drugs, and free of gangs," the implications for U.S. jurisprudence of this and other internal enclaves are greater: while the Little Rock enclave might prevent the sale of alcohol, can it punish possession and in what manner? Can it force all women, be they residents or visitors, to don Islamic hijab (headscarf)? Such enclaves raise the fundamental questions of when, how, and to what extent religious practice may supersede the U.S. Constitution.
The Internal Muslim Enclave
The internal Muslim enclave proposed by the Islamic Center for Human Excellence in Arkansas represents a new direction for Islam in the United States. The group seeks to transform a loosely organized Muslim population into a tangible community presence. The group has foreign financial support: it falls under the umbrella of a much larger Islamic group, "Islam 4 the World," an organization sponsored by Sharjah, one of the constituent emirates of the United Arab Emirates. While the Islamic Center for Human Excellence has yet to articulate detailed plans for its Little Rock enclave, the group's reliance on foreign funding is troublesome. Past investments by the United Arab Emirates' rulers and institutions have promoted radical interpretations of Islam. 
The Islamic Center for Human Excellence may seek to segregate schools and offices by gender. The enclave might also exercise broad control upon commerce within its boundaries-provided the economic restrictions did not discriminate against out-of-state interests or create an undue burden upon interstate commerce. But most critically, the enclave could promulgate every internal law-from enforcing strict religious dress codes to banning alcohol possession and music; it could even enforce limits upon religious and political tolerance. Although such concepts are antithetical to a free society, U.S. democracy allows the internal enclave to function beyond the established boundaries of our constitutional framework. At the very least, the permissible parameters of an Islamist enclave are ill defined.
The greater American Muslim community's unapologetic and public manifestation of belief in a separate but equal ideology does not bode well. In September 2004, the New Jersey branch of the Islamic Circle of North America rented Six Flags Adventure Park in New Jersey for "The Great Muslim Adventure Day." The advertisement announcing the event stated: "The entire park for Muslims only." While legal-and perhaps analogous to corporate or other non-religious groups renting facilities, the advertisement expressly implied a mindset that a proof of faith was required for admission to the park. In his weblog, commentator Daniel Pipes raises a relevant and troubling question about the event: because it is designated for Muslims only, "Need one recite the shahada to enter the fairgrounds?"
While U.S. law might give such Muslims-only events the benefit of the doubt, flexibility may not go both ways. There is precedent of Islamists taking advantage of liberal flexibility to more extreme ends. Canada provides a useful example into how Islamist groups can exploit liberal legal tolerance. In 1991, Ontario, Canada, passed a seemingly innocuous law called the "Arbitration Act." This act permitted commercial, religious, or such other designated arbitrators to settle civil disputes outside the Canadian justice system so long as the result did not contradict Canadian law. Like U.S. authorities are beginning to do now, Canadian legislators decided to give religious groups the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they would still hold national law to be paramount.
In October 2003, under the auspices of the Ontario legislation, the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice created Muslim arbitration boards and stated its intent to arbitrate on the basis of Islamic law. A national furor erupted, particularly among Canadian Muslim women's groups that opposed the application of traditional Islamic (Shari`a) laws that would supersede their far more liberal and egalitarian democratic rights. After nearly two years of legal wrangling, the premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, held that religious-based arbitrations "threaten our common ground," and announced, "There will be no Shari`a law in Ontario. There will be no religious arbitration in Ontario. There will be one law for all Ontarians." On November 15, 2005, McGuinty's provincial government submitted legislation to amend the arbitration act to abrogate, in effect, all religious arbitration. Requests for Muslim enclaves within larger U.S. communities may signal that U.S. jurisprudence will soon be faced with a similar conundrum. Islamist exceptionalism can abuse the tolerance liberal societies have traditionally extended to interface between religious and secular law.
Prior to the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice demands to impose Shari`a, the Arbitration Act worked well. Unfortunately for Canadian Jews, the repeal ended state-enforcement of agreements reached by the use of a millennia-old rabbinical court system called beit din (house of law) that had for decades quietly settled marriage, custody, and business disputes. Joel Richler, Ontario region chairman of the Canadian Jewish Congress, expressed his lament: "If there have been any problems flowing from any rabbinical court decisions, I'm not aware of them." Canadian Catholics likewise were stopped from being able to annul marriages according to Canon Law and avoid undue entanglement in civil courts. Abuse of the spirit of the law, though, ended up curtailing local liberty. Rather than soften the edge between religion and state, the Islamic Institute of Civil Justice threatened to eliminate it with the imposition of Shari`a. The Canadian experience demonstrates how flexibility can backfire when all parties do not seek to uphold basic precepts of tolerance. The Little Rock application raises the specter of a parallel situation. While The Islamic Center for Human Excellence may state it wants to create a clean-living community, might the community's extreme interpretation of Shari`a force a reconsideration of just how much leeway the U.S. government gives religious communities?
As the Muslim community in the United States grows, an increasingly active Islamist lobby has submitted numerous white papers and amicus briefs to legislators and courts arguing for the religious right of Muslims to apply Shari`a law, particularly in relation to family law disputes. This looming jurisprudential conflict is significant for it raises issues about the rights of community members to marry outside the community, forced marriages, and the minimum age of brides, and whether wives and daughters may enjoy equal inheritance. In cases of non-family law, it raises the question about whether the testimony of women will be considered on par with that of men.
No previous enclave in U.S. history has ever been so vigorously protected by agents of group identity politics or so adamantly defended by legal watchdogs; nor has any previous religious enclave possessed the potency of more than one billion believers around the world. Islamic-only communities may also benefit from the largess provided by billions of petrol dollars to finance growth. The track record of Saudi and other wealthy Persian Gulf donations and charitable efforts are worrisome. There is a direct correlation between Saudi money received and the spread of intolerant practices. In 2004, for example, the U.S. Treasury Department froze the assets of Al-Haramein Foundation, one of Saudi Arabia's largest nongovernmental organizations, because of its financial links to Al-Qaeda. Additionally, American graduates of Saudi academies advance Wahhabist interpretations of Islam inside the U.S. prison system, and Saudi-subsidized publications promote intolerance inside U.S. mosques.
A Muslim enclave is uniquely perilous because there are few if any internal enclaves that adhere to a polity dedicated to the active abrogation of secular law and the imposition of a supreme religious law. The concept of Shari`a is so fundamental to Islam, that even today, prominent Muslim jurists argue over whether a Muslim can fully discharge Shari`a obligations while residing in a non-Muslim territory. Yet, in spite of this apparent conundrum, Muslims have resided peacefully in non-Muslim lands since the seventh century. In the greater context, there may be a breach in the dike for Islamist groups residing in the United States because the Baltimore and Little Rock enclaves must acknowledge the U.S. Constitution as the paramount basis of civil law.
A dissident Islamic sub-community is filled with dichotomous propositions: from the presumed supremacy of Shari`a-based law over secular law; the melding of religion and polity versus the constitutionally mandated separation of same; to the politics of group and factionalism, versus assimilation and pluralism. To deny the settlement of a Muslim-only community based solely upon prejudices formed after September 11 would be illiberal. But the alternative, opening the door to Islamic enclaves without scrutiny, is as dubious.
The Enclave under U.S. Law
Existing U.S. legal precedent, though, may provide some grounds for handling expansive demands for Islamic enclaves. U.S. legal views of internal enclaves derive from the famous 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled the concept of separate but equal to be unconstitutional. While the case revolved around the right of black children to attend white schools, it promulgated a concept that is anathema in today's world of multiculturalism: neither the state nor any constituent group could claim equality through separation.
Enclaves can exist, though. As courts have ruled on issues relating to equality under the law and upon the autonomy of religious practice, two distinctive features of internal U.S. enclaves have taken shape: first, the boundaries of the enclave should be recognized by local inhabitants. Second, the enclave cannot supersede the constitutionally protected rights of the citizens of a state.
Because most rights secured by the constitution are protected only against infringement by government action, the Supreme Court has avoided establishing a bright-line test as to the limits of religious liberty. Any religious group or individual seeking to establish an internal enclave has the right to limit residency, promulgate local rules, and perhaps even collect fees or taxes to support nominal community services.
Such enclaves do not hold final sway over the rights of non-residents, however. In Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Company and Flagg Brothers v. Brooks, the court outlined constitutional protections for private citizens in which any entity, religious or otherwise, exercising governmental authority over private citizens remains subject to the provisions of the First and Fourteenth amendments. In both cases, the court affirmed that citizens of a state retain their right to "due process of law" under the Fourteenth Amendment, even when inside an enclave. These holdings, however, do not prevent enclaves from restricting the individual freedoms of their inhabitants.
The Supreme Court has ruled upon the limits of religious liberty. In Cantwell v. Connecticut, the court outlined the circumstances in which the government could act to restrict religious independence. The court held that the free exercise clause "embraces two concepts-freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute, but in the nature of things, the second cannot be. Conduct remains subject to regulation for the protection of society."
Christopher L. Eisgruber, professor of law at New York University, explained. He argued that, "the Constitution permits government to nurture ideological sub-communities founded upon premises inconsistent with the constitution's own commitments." He maintained that such dissident sub-communities can provide important "sources of dissent" and asserted that even if an enclave embraced ideals contrary to constitutional ideals, it should still be granted the right to pursue its own vision of good. For example, he wrote:
[Though] it is regrettable that young women in Kiryas Joel [a Satmar Hasidic enclave] will grow up in a starkly sexist culture, and it is regrettable that the Amish children of Yoder will find it very hard to become astronomers or lawyers . it would also be regrettable if the United States were not home to any sub-communities which, like the Satmars or the Amish, rejected principles of justice fundamental to the American regime.
According to Eisgruber, tolerance of the intolerant is fundamental to the freedoms espoused by Western liberal democracy. While Islamists might use such logic to argue for the permissibility of Shari`a communities, such tolerance has limits. Enclaves do not have carte blanche to act. Both the state and national legislatures must retain control over the extent of accommodation, and there should be no subsidization of the enclave by the government. Such limits ensure that the government can constrain those sub-communities that might espouse more radical, violent, or racist views.
It is usually when the U.S. government moves to uphold the rule of law that most Americans first learn of an internal enclave. Few Americans knew of the philosophy espoused by anti-government activist Randy Weaver until 1992 when the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol and Firearms raided his compound at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, killing Vicki Weaver, their infant son, Sam, and the family dog. Nor did many Americans know about David Koresh and his religious views until a raid the following year on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, in which a resulting fire killed fifty adults and twenty-five children under the age of fifteen. While tragic, such events involved cults or political splinter groups. The growth of Muslim enclaves raises the specter of such conflicts occurring on a much larger scale.
While the court has interpreted the establishment clause to empower the government to constrain dissident sub-communities when necessary to protect public safety, it has been wary of addressing legal issues requiring intrusion upon the religious polity. Because the First Amendment provides for religious freedom, the court has confined itself to ruling upon three basic issues: property disputes between national religious hierarchical organizations with affiliated breakaway entities; accommodations under the free exercise clause; and the prohibition against the establishment of a state religion. New challenges, though, may lead to new interpretations.
The Antithesis to Democracy
Is concern over internal Muslim enclaves justified? On their face, the fundamental principles of the internal Muslim enclave are no more invidious than any other religious enclave. But ideology matters. Many proponents of an Islamic polity promote an ideology at odds with U.S. constitutional jurisprudence and the prohibition against the establishment of a state-sponsored religion. The refusal to recognize federal law makes Islamist enclaves more akin to Ruby Ridge than to the Hasidic and Amish cases cited by Eisgruber.
Muslim theologians describe Islam not only as a religion but also as a system of state. The Qur'an-viewed by Muslims as the word of God-is replete with instructions about governance. An enclave promoting Islamic mores does not necessarily restrict itself to a social atmosphere but also one of governance. Traditional Islamic law controls the most basic aspects of everyday life and may make any Islamic enclave irreconcilable with the basic presumptions of Western liberal democracy and secular law.
While many American Muslims practice Islam and embrace the fundamental principles of the U.S. Constitution, others do not. There are consistent attempts by Islamist elements overseas to strengthen their own radical interpretation of Islam at the expense of moderation and tolerance. Saudi donors, for example, have propagated the ideology of Islamism, which seeks to interweave a narrow and often intolerant interpretation of religion into an all-encompassing political ideology. The number of imams and jihadists who have been outspoken in identifying the supremacy of Shari`a to democracy underlines the incompatibility of Islamism and democracy. The late Saudi theologian, Sheikh Muhammad bin Ibrahim al-Jubair, for example, stated,
Only one ambition is worthy of Islam, to save the world from the curse of democracy: to teach men that they cannot rule themselves on the basis of man-made laws. Mankind has strayed from the path of God, we must return to that path or face certain annihilation.
Prior to Iraq's January 30, 2005 elections, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, released an audiotape in which he declared war upon democracy and denounced its tenets as "the very essence of heresy, polytheism, and error." Nor is Islamist antipathy for democracy limited to popular elections. According to a Saudi publication distributed at a San Diego mosque, "[Democracy is] responsible for all the horrible wars . more than 130 wars with more than 120 million people dead [in the twentieth century alone]; not counting victims of poverty, hunger and disease." Such sentiments reflect a common theme among Islamists: democracy is the antithesis to everything pious and pure in Islam; and, in truth, democracy is the direct and substantial causal effect of Muslim suffering and injustice in the world today.
This does not mean that Islamists are unwilling to use democracy for their ends. But while they accept the trappings of democracy, they continue to reject its principles because the Shari`a, to them the perfect rule of law, cannot be abrogated or altered by the shifting moods of a secular electorate. Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi, editor-in-chief of the pan-Arab weekly Al-Mustakillah, explained,
The heart of the matter is that no Islamic state can be legitimate in the eyes of its subjects without obeying the main teachings of the Shari`a. A secular government might coerce obedience, but Muslims will not abandon their belief that state affairs should be supervised by the just teachings of the holy law.
He could draw from plenty of examples. In 1992, for example, Ali Balhadj, a leader of the Islamic Salvation Front in Algeria, declared, "When we are in power, there will be no more elections because God will be ruling." While mayor of Istanbul, Islamist Turkish politician Recep Tayyip Erdoğan quipped, "For us, democracy is a streetcar. We would go as far as we could, and then get off." As he eviscerates the judiciary, many Turks wonder about his sincerity.
Experience abroad is relevant, as it goes to the heart of the sincerity of proponents of the Little Rock and Baltimore enclaves, an issue compounded by the willingness to accept donations from Persian Gulf financiers.
How Muslims reconcile Islamic polity within the confines of Western liberal democracy is an unresolved issue. This process will take years to evolve and is likely to convulse in further violent episodes. Presently, many Muslims reject wholesale the notion of a dominant secular law and instead seek the imposition of a pan-Islamist state under the guidance of Shari`a. These Islamists view secular modernity and the democratic practices of radical egalitarianism, individual rights, and free exercise of religion as a direct and substantial threat to their belief system, and they are intent on employing violence against the West for the foreseeable future. The remainder and majority of the Muslim world must reject nihilism and engage in widespread debate regarding Islam's role within the world community.
The local planning commission in Little Rock, Arkansas, might proceed with the proposed Muslim enclave, but the Arkansas courts and its legislature should not abdicate its responsibilities to ensure that Western liberal rights and protections remain supreme. The government should monitor both the rhetoric and behavior of these communities. As the Supreme Court stated in Cantwell: the freedom to believe is absolute, but the freedom to act, in the nature of things, cannot be, especially as to the safety and preservation of the American democracy.
By David Kennedy Houck
David Kennedy Houck is an attorney at Houck O'Brien LLC, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
 See, for example, discussion of the Sonali Gardens project in London, The Evening Standard (London), Apr. 27, 2004.
 Marya Morris, "Muslim Community Development Initiatives," American Planning Association, Apr. 25, 2004.
 "Muslim Community Development Plans," Fox 16 News, Aug. 26, 2004.
 Information on the Arkansas Islamic Center for Human Excellence website, accessed on Nov. 2, 2005, linked visitors to the "Islam 4 the World" website.
 U.S. Department of State, news release, Feb. 19, 2004.
 Daniel Pipes, "Muslims Only!" at Six Flags Adventure Park," http://www.DanielPipes.org, Sept. 10, 2004.
 "Arbitration Act," S.O. 1991, "Ontario Statutes and Regulations," e-Laws News, c. 17.
 Daniel Pipes, "Enforce Islamic Law in Canada?" The New York Sun, Sept. 27, 2005.
 Canadian Press News Agency, Sept. 11, 2005.
 Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General, news release, Nov. 15, 2005.
 Canadian Press News Agency, Sept. 11, 2005.
 See, Asifa Quaraishi and Najeeba Syeed-Miller, "No Altars: A Survey of Islamic Family Law in the United States," Islamic Family Law project, Law and Religion Program, Emory University, Atlanta, Ga.; American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism (AMILA) in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court on the juvenile aspect of the death penalty that included citations to Shari'a law.
 U.S. Department of State, news release, Feb. 19, 2004.
 The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 5, 2003.
 Khaleel Mohammed, "Assessing English Translations of the Qu'ran," Middle East Quarterly, Spring 2005, pp. 59-71.
 Khaled Abou El Fadl, "Islamic Law and Muslim Minorities: The Juristic Discourse on Muslim Minorities from the Second/Eighth to the Eleventh/Seventeenth Centuries," Islamic Law and Society, 1:2(1994): 141-4.
 Brown et al. v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).
 Jackson v. Metropolitan Edison Company, 419 U.S. 345 (1974).
 Flagg Brothers v. Brooks, 436 U.S. 149 (1978).
 Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S 296 (1940), pp. 303-4.
 Christopher L. Eisgruber, "The Constitutional Value of Assimilation," The Columbia Law Review, Jan. 1996, pp. 87-8.
 Ibid., p. 91.
 Ibid., pp. 89, 91.
 Ibid., pp. 87, 92.
 CNN News, Aug. 21, 1997.
 "The Aftermath of the April 19 Fire," Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas (redacted version: Oct. 8, 1993), U.S. Department of Justice, chap. XIII.
 Amir Taheri, "Islam and Democracy: The Impossible Union," The Sunday Times (London), May 23, 2004.
 Nimrod Raphaeli, "The Sheikh of the Slaughterers": Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi and the Al-Qa'ida Connection," Middle East Research Media Institute (MEMRI), Inquiry and Analysis Series, no. 231, July 1, 2005.
 "Anti-American," Saudi Publications on Hate Ideology Invade American Mosques, Center for Religious Freedom, Freedom House, chap. 4, p. 4.
 Mohamed Elhachmi Hamdi, "Islam and Liberal Democracy: The Limits of the Western Model," Journal of Democracy, Apr. 1996, pp. 81-5.
 Michael Rubin, "Islamists Are Intrinsically Anti-democratic," http://www.bitterlemons-international.org, June 2, 2005.
 Hrriyet (Istanbul), Apr. 23, 1998.
 Milliyet (Istanbul), June 6, 2005.
 Cantwell, pp. 303-4.
school district in nebraska - brianold - 04-17-2006 02:16 PM
and now this... a black state congressman added the amendment on that establishes 3 separate school districts, white, black, latino, each self-governed.
this is after a previous attempt by nebraska congress to integrate suburban districts into the city district, creating one large integrated district that would share a budget...
so what do you think...
April 15, 2006
Law to Segregate Omaha Schools Divides Nebraska
By SAM DILLON
OMAHA, April 14 — Ernie Chambers is Nebraska's only African-American state senator, a man who has fought for causes including the abolition of capital punishment and the end of apartheid in South Africa. A magazine writer once described him as the "angriest black man in Nebraska."
He was also a driving force behind a measure passed by the Legislature on Thursday and signed into law by the governor that calls for dividing the Omaha public schools into three racially identifiable districts, one largely black, one white and one mostly Hispanic.
The law, which opponents are calling state-sponsored segregation, has thrown Nebraska into an uproar, prompting fierce debate about the value of integration versus what Mr. Chambers calls a desire by blacks to control a school district in which their children are a majority.
Civil rights scholars call the legislation the most blatant recent effort in the nation to create segregated school systems or, as in Omaha, to resegregate districts that had been integrated by court order. Omaha ran a mandatory busing program from 1976 to 1999.
"These efforts to resegregate schools by race keep popping up in various parts of the country," said Gary Orfield, director of the Civil Rights Project at Harvard, adding that such programs skate near or across the line of what is constitutionally permissible. "I hear about something like this every few months, but usually when districts hear the legal realities from civil rights lawyers, they tend to back off their plans."
Nebraska's attorney general, Jon Bruning, said in a letter to a state senator that preliminary scrutiny had led him to believe that the law could violate the federal Constitution's equal protection clause, and that he expected legal challenges.
The debate here began when the Omaha district, which educates most of the state's minority students, moved last June to absorb a string of largely white schools that were within the Omaha city limits but were controlled by suburban or independent districts.
"Multiple school districts in Omaha stratify our community," John J. Mackiel, the Omaha schools superintendent, said last year. "They create inequity, and they compromise the opportunity for a genuine sense of community."
Omaha school authorities and business leaders marketed the expansion under the slogan, "One City, One School District." The plan, the district said, would create a more equitable tax base and foster integration through magnet programs to be set up in largely white schools on Omaha's western edge that would attract minority students.
The district had no plans to renew busing, but some suburban parents feared that it might. The suburban districts rebelled, and the unicameral Legislature drew up a measure to blunt the district's expansion.
The bill contained provisions creating a "learning community" to include 11 school districts in the Omaha area operating with a common tax levy while maintaining current borders. It required districts to work together to promote voluntary integration.
But the legislation changed radically with a two-page amendment by Mr. Chambers that carved the Omaha schools into racially identifiable districts, a move he told his colleagues would allow black educators to control schools in black areas.
Nebraska's 49-member, nonpartisan Legislature approved the measure by a vote of 31 to 16, with Mr. Chambers's support and with the votes of 30 conservative lawmakers from affluent white suburbs and ranching counties with a visceral dislike of the Omaha school bureaucracy. Gov. Dave Heineman, a Republican facing a tough primary fight, said he did not consider the measure segregationist and immediately signed it.
Dr. Mackiel, the Omaha superintendent, said the school board was "committed to protecting young people's constitutional rights."
"If that includes litigation, then that certainly is a consideration," Dr. Mackiel said.
Some of Nebraska's richest and most powerful residents have also questioned the legislation, including the billionaire investor Warren Buffett as well as David Sokol, the chief executive of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, which employs thousands in Nebraska and Iowa.
"This is going to make our state a laughingstock, and it's going to increase racial tensions and segregation," Mr. Sokol said in an interview.
The Omaha district has 46,700 students, 44 percent of them white, 32 percent black, 21 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian or Native American. The suburban systems that surround it range in size from the Millard Public School District, with about 20,000 students, 9 percent of whom are members of minorities, to the Bennington district, with 704 students, 4 percent of whom are members of minorities.
Parent reaction is divided. Darold Bauer, a professional fund-raiser who has three children in Millard schools, said he was pleased that the law had eliminated the threat of busing, although he said he was not thrilled about sharing a common tax levy with the Omaha schools.
"What this law does is protect the boundaries of my district," said Mr. Bauer, who is white. "All the districts in the area are now required to work together on an integration plan, and I'm fine with that, because my kids won't be bused."
Brenda J. Council, a prominent black lawyer whose niece and nephew attend Omaha's North High School, said of the law, "I'm adamantly opposed because it'll only institutionalize racial isolation."
Whether the law goes unchallenged is unclear. "We believe the state may face serious risk due to the potential constitutional problems," Attorney General Bruning said in his letter.
But Senator Chambers, a 68-year-old former barber who earned a law degree after his election to the Legislature in 1970, was unmoved. He lists his occupation as "defender of the downtrodden," and suggests that is precisely what he is doing.
"Several years ago I began discussing in my community the possibility of carving our area out of Omaha Public Schools and establishing a district over which we would have control," Mr. Chambers said during the debate on the floor of the Legislature. "My intent is not to have an exclusionary system, but we, meaning black people, whose children make up the vast majority of the student population, would control."
During an interview in his office, Mr. Chambers took time out to answer calls questioning the plan. He told several people bluntly that they were misinformed, but he remained polite.
"You call me anytime, whether you agree with me or not," he signed off one conversation.
He acknowledged that he had nursed a latent fury with the Omaha district since enduring the taunting of schoolmates during classroom readings of "Little Black Sambo" when he attended during the 1940's. He also accused the district of returning to segregated neighborhood schools when it ended busing in 1999, although no high school is more than 48 percent black.
Other black leaders in Omaha criticized the new law.
"This is a disaster," said Ben Gray, a television news producer and co-chairman of the African-American Achievement Council, a group of volunteers who mentor black students. "Throughout our time in America, we've had people who continuously fought for equality, and from Brown vs. Board of Education, we know that separate is not equal. We cannot go back to segregating our schools."
NAACP stands against Omaha law - brianold - 04-21-2006 12:34 PM
now the NAACP has gotten in it and pleged to dedicate all their resources to stop the law.
is it worth that energy?
here's the quote from the state senator:
"None are so blind as those who will not see, none so deaf as those who will not hear," Chambers said. "They don't know what the bill says, and if they're simply opposed to segregated schools, they'd be opposed to what OPS is right now."
NAACP on the wrongside. - brianold - 04-24-2006 12:21 PM
This writer says that if the NAACP actually knew the circumstaces in the Omaha school district debate, they would realize they are standing on the wrong side of things and change their position instead of continuing to support weathly (relatively, or not) families who do not want to carry their fair share in regard to contributing to the public school system.
Omaha’s School Debacle: A Southerner’s Perspective by Eric Spann
“Are there any black people in Omaha?” was my mother’s question when I told her, almost 2 summers ago, that I had landed a job here and was considering relocating. Being born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama and having lived in Macon, Georgia and Nashville, Tennessee, my decision to move to Omaha, Nebraska was met with similar questions from both family and friends. Having little knowledge of the Midwest, my elderly grandparents still get Omaha confused with Oklahoma; as to them, I moved out to the “middle of nowhere” so the fact that one is a city and one is a state is quite relative to them. I thought all of the questions were silly as I was sure that the birthplace of Malcolm X had a strong contingent of Black Americans.
I was wrong.
I arrived in Omaha for the first time on a holiday weekend. It was a Friday two days before the July 4th celebration. The plane was full of people landing at Omaha’s Eppley airport, but it was odd to me that I was one of only two blacks exiting the plane. I was in Omaha for the weekend to secure housing for my wife and I, and my goal was to find a nice apartment within reasonable proximity of my new job. Being new to the city, I had no pretensions about any part of the city, but on each turn I would be warned to “stay away” from North Omaha. I knew what that meant. I have learned that when white people collectively say stay away from a particular part of town, they are telling you that it is the part of town that they have abandoned and is now inhabited by Blacks or Hispanics – being from the “black part” of Birmingham, I know the code words. I spent the greater part of two days looking for an apartment and in that time I met maybe 10 black people. This is no exaggeration. It is possible to come to Omaha and count on one hand the number of blacks you will encounter if you stay away from the North part of town. Geographically, the airport is located on the eastern most part of town, not far from North Omaha, and the city seems to grow and become more developed the farther one travels west. The term Manifest Destiny comes to mind as you leave the airport and its neighboring, but neatly tucked away, black community in your rearview mirror.
In Omaha, unabashed segregation is normal.
The racial divisions in Omaha are very pronounced and it was this way long before Nebraska’s single black legislator, Senator Ernie Chambers, proposed his plan for restructuring the school system. It is no secret that North Omaha is Black, South Omaha is Hispanic, and West Omaha is White. As such, the children in these communities attend the schools that are in their neighborhoods. Legislative Bill 1024, the bill that many say threatens to reintroduce segregation to Omaha’s public schools by dividing it into three racially distinct entities, has recently been passed and signed. I, a native southerner, find laughable the claims that fault this bill for promoting segregation in Omaha. Omaha and the rest of Nebraska are in serious states of denial as they try to portray to the rest of America that there is such harmony - economically, socially and otherwise - between the races here. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In Omaha, blacks are tolerated at best, as long as they don’t disturb the status quo. As far as I can tell, in my 2 years in Omaha, segregation is alive and well.
A year ago, before the world’s attention was brought to Omaha, a resolution entitled One City, One School District was introduced by the Omaha Public School (OPS) system to annex many suburban schools that lay within Omaha city limits. According to OPS, this would be in accordance with an 1891 Nebraska law requiring the suburban schools to be part of one school district. The OPS resolution met with vicious opposition by school leaders and parents in the suburban areas as most moved to the suburbs to get their children away from the Omaha school system. In Omaha, though Blacks make up only about 7% of the city’s population, they make up 31.5% of the city’s schools and for some Omahans this is far too many. So they moved to communities like Millard and Ralston where black students make up 2 and 4% of the school population. To put these percentages into perspective, last school year Omaha had 15,000 black students while the suburbs of Millard and Ralston had 474 and 124 respectively. One can see why the suburban schools don’t want to be annexed.
Senator Ernie Chambers – the spoiler.
As neither OPS nor the suburban school districts could arrive at a happy medium, state senators Ernie Chambers and Ron Raikes devised a plan that would create three distinct “learning communities” that would give a largely neglected Black and Hispanic Omaha what the parents of the smaller, suburban school districts already have, and that is a voice and greater control over how their children are educated. At the same time, it will also bring back to OPS some of the tax dollars that left the district as a result of white flight. This spoils the plans of OPS because instead of enlarging OPS’ boundaries, it now forces OPS to relinquish a bit of control. So now OPS is crying foul and has brought in some of Omaha’s wealthiest businessmen, including billionaire Warren Buffett to call the Chambers plan racist and divisive. Far from exasperating Omaha’s existing racial divisions, the Chambers plan actually fosters diversity and equality by pooling the financial resources of the city and the suburban areas to improve the education of all students in Omaha. As the plan contains no language forcing any student to attend any particular school, students are free, as they have been, to attend any school in any of the districts. Interestingly, as Buffett and his wealthy cohorts met to discuss their interest in the “diversity” and “inclusiveness” of Omaha, not one person of color was found at their discussion.
If opponents of the plan, and this includes the local NAACP, would simply ponder one thing and that is, why would a black man go daily to Nebraska's all white capitol on behalf of blacks, and live in the very same community that would allegedly be negatively impacted, propose a plan that would be detrimental to that community? The senator has been accused by the local head of the NAACP as having ulterior motives, but Senator Chambers, the Black voice of Nebraska for over 30 years, stands to gain nothing from his proposal save a quality education for his grandchildren and all of the children who are enrolled in Omaha Public Schools. Unlike Warren Buffett and the rest of Omaha’s business elite, Sen. Chambers, the sole black member of Nebraska’s legislature, lives in the heart of Omaha’s black community and has a vested interest in the future of Omaha Public Schools - Mr. Buffett does not.
To say that segregation is returning to Omaha is a hyperbole; it never left.
Eric Spann is a healthcare IT professional in Omaha, NE and is not a Cornhusker fan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, April 24, 2006
segregation is schools reply - Brandi - 04-24-2006 02:28 PM
Alright, my first issue is shared with Eric Spann. Segregation is not something that is non-existent in Omaha, as is in multiple US cities, states, etc. Being from long Island, New York, I, like many other folks have experienced this first hand. Neighborhoods are separated because of race and income. Income level can serve as a catalyst for integration, but even that, I feel, is more so among lower income levels. Most children attend public schools that are near their home and go to school with the folks that live around them. This is not really anything new.
I understand the want to integrate because White schools have more money, more resources, better teachers, and the list can go on. What I do not understand is the devotion to fighting for integrated school as opposed to working to perfect or even simply improve Black schools. Why are we always begging to get what White people have? Of course there is so much more that Black people as a whole need to work on, but even if those issues aren’t fixed do you really think that integration into a White school for Black children is going be affective for all(everyone of them) when they go back home to their crazy hoods after school? It’s not, because going to school with White kids isn’t the answer to the problem. Community repair, ethical repair, self repair and solidarity among Black folks are the solution. That is a lot to ask, but it’s real.
In all, I think that Black people spend so much time concentrating on what we don’t have or rather what White people have taken away that we forget to ask ourselves what it is that we aren’t doing so that we can alleviate some of the issues within our communities.
I’m working on a report and I came across an article that I think is somewhat relative to post. This article touches on the gaps between Black and White students SAT Scores. It also brushes over some of the why questions we may have. Looking at these scores and stats should make you think about the current state of Black education and how much work we really need to invest in our children. This is so serious. We can send our children to White schools, but I don’t think that is going to deal with deep rooted issues that exist. It just brushes over the surface. What do you all think some solutions are?
Here is the link if you want to view the graphs
The Widening Racial Scoring Gap on the SAT College Admissions Test
The racial scoring gap on the SAT test has now become wider than has been the case for the past two decades. Many believe that in the years to come the gap may grow smaller, not because blacks are catching up to whites in educational achievement, but rather because the test makers are adding a writing component to the test that may be manipulated to lessen racial differences and therefore reduce public criticisms of the test.
For many decades The College Board has used a 200 to 800 scoring scale of performance for both the verbal and mathematical sections of the Scholastic Assessment Test. Now a writing component has been added to the SAT. From now on, students will receive three scores each ranging between 200 and 800. In the past a 1600 has been the best possible score on the composite SAT. Hereafter, the best composite score will be 2400. This means that this year's test results will be the last time JBHE will be able to compare black-white SAT scores based on the scoring system that has been used since racial differences in test results were first made public in 1976.
There are students of the SAT who believe that the new writing component actually will widen the racial scoring gap even further. They contend that this will happen because only 50 percent of black students who take the SAT have taken English composition classes while in high school. This compares to 67 percent for white test takers. Other commentators express the view that the new test will worsen the results for blacks on the theory that, for cultural reasons, blacks on the whole possess writing skills that are materially inferior to those of whites.
Nevertheless, there are analysts who say that the introduction of the writing component will reduce the racial scoring gap. The reason has to do with the probable biases of the test grader rather than the ability of the test taker. These experts maintain that the people who score the new writing section will be able to detect the race of the writer by the vocabulary and subject matter of the student's essay. There is then a suspicion in some quarters that the scorers of the test, who are often able to determine the race of the test taker, may be inclined to "give a break" to black students. Therefore, it is suggested that the examination will be graded on a curve that benefits blacks and Hispanics. It is argued, too, that for political and social reasons scoring on the writing test may be manipulated to narrow the overall gap between whites and blacks and thereby will lessen criticism that the test is biased against minority students. These suspicions may turn out to be correct. Preliminary results released by The College Board on high school juniors who took the test this past spring show that under the new system the racial scoring gap will be the same or smaller than it was before.
So, as a result of the discontinuance of the old test, for the final time JBHE now analyzes SAT results using the familiar scoring system that has been in place for generations. And the news is not good. The average black score on the SAT did rise by seven points from the previous year. But the average white score improved by nine points. Thus, the black-white scoring gap has increased during the past year.
Over the past decade and a half, there has been only a slight improvement in black SAT scores. And over the past 17 years the racial gap between the scores of blacks and whites has actually increased.
Here is the history.
In 1976 The College Board published an analysis of the racial differences in scores of the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT). At that time the average black score was about 240 points, or 20 percent, below the average white score. When The College Board next examined the racial scoring gap in the early 1980s, the gap had shrunk to 200 points. Black scores were then 17 percent lower than white scores. By 1988 the black-white SAT test scoring gap was down to 189 points. The trend was distinctly encouraging. Many specialists in the educational community predicted that in time the racial scoring gap would disappear altogether.
But after 1989 progress in closing the SAT gap stopped abruptly and later it began to open up. For the five-year period between 2000 and 2005 the gap between black and white scores on the SAT test expanded.
In 2005 the average black score on the combined math and verbal portions of the SAT test was 864. The mean white score on the combined math and verbal SAT was 1068, 17 percent higher.
In 1988 the combined mean score for blacks on both the math and verbal portions of the SAT was 847. By 2005 the average black score had risen only 17 points, or about 1.4 percent, to 864.
Despite the small overall improvement of black SAT scores over the past 17 years, the gap between black and white scores has actually increased. In 1988 the average combined score for whites of 1036 was 189 points higher than the average score for blacks. In 2005 the gap between the average white score and the average black score had grown to 204 points.
Not only are African-American scores on the SAT far below the scores of whites and Asian Americans, but they also trail the scores of every other major ethnic group in the United States including students of Puerto Rican and Mexican backgrounds. In fact, American Indian and Alaska Native students on average score more than 104 points higher than the average score of black students. On average, Asian American students score 227 points, or 19 percent higher, higher than African Americans.
Explaining the Black-White SAT Gap
There are a number of reasons that are being advanced to explain the continuing and growing black-white SAT scoring gap. Sharp differences in family incomes are a major factor. Always there has been a direct correlation between family income and SAT scores. For both blacks and whites, as income goes up, so do test scores. In 2005, 28 percent of all black SAT test takers were from families with annual incomes below $20,000. Only 5 percent of white test takers were from families with incomes below $20,000. At the other extreme, 7 percent of all black test takers were from families with incomes of more than $100,000. The comparable figure for white test takers is 27 percent.
But there is a major flaw in the thesis that income differences explain the racial gap. Consider these three observable facts from The College Board's 2005 data on the SAT:
• Whites from families with incomes of less than $10,000 had a mean SAT score of 993. This is 129 points higher than the national mean for all blacks.
• Whites from families with incomes below $10,000 had a mean SAT test score that was 61 points higher than blacks whose families had incomes of between $80,000 and $100,000.
• Blacks from families with incomes of more than $100,000 had a mean SAT score that was 85 points below the mean score for whites from all income levels, 139 points below the mean score of whites from families at the same income level, and 10 points below the average score of white students from families whose income was less than $10,000.
Other Explanations for the Racial
Scoring Gap on the SAT
Clearly, one of the main factors in explaining the SAT racial gap is that black students almost across the board are not being adequately schooled to perform well on the SAT and similar tests. Public schools in many neighborhoods with large black populations are underfunded, inadequately staffed, and ill equipped to provide the same quality of secondary education that is offered in predominantly white suburban school districts.
Data from The College Board shows that 57 percent of white students who took the SAT were ranked in the top 20 percent of their high school classes. This compares to 37 percent of black test takers. Some 45 percent of white students who took the SAT report that their high school grade point average was in the A range. This compares to only 22 percent of black test takers. The mean high school grade point average for all white students who took the SAT was 3.37. For blacks the figures was 2.99. These figures alone explain a large portion of the racial scoring gap on the SAT.
A major reason for the SAT racial gap appears to be the fact that black students who take the SAT have not followed the same academic track as white students. It is true that 97 percent of both blacks and whites who take the SAT have studied algebra in high school. But in higher level mathematics courses such as trigonometry and calculus, whites hold a large lead. In 2005, 47 percent of white SAT test takers had taken trigonometry in high school compared to 35 percent of black test takers. Some 28 percent of white test takers had taken calculus in high school. Only 14 percent of black students had taken calculus, one half as many as whites. Thirty-two percent of white SAT test takers had taken honors courses in mathematics compared to 19 percent of black SAT test takers.
Similar discrepancies appear in the level of instruction in English, the other major component of the SAT. Some 87 percent of white test takers had completed coursework in American literature compared to 75 percent of black test takers. For whites, 67 percent had taken high school courses in composition compared to 50 percent of blacks. Some 70 percent of whites and 59 percent of blacks had completed coursework in grammar. A full 40 percent of all white test takers had completed honors courses in English compared to 29 percent of black test takers.
Also, whites are far more likely than blacks to have taken honors courses in science and social studies. Given the huge differences in course study between black and white high school students, it comes as no surprise that white SAT scores are significantly higher than black SAT scores. Whites, who are more likely to attend high-quality schools, have simply achieved a greater mastery of the subject matter than have blacks.
There are other reasons that contribute to the large scoring gap between blacks and whites on the SAT:
• In many cases black schoolchildren are taught by white teachers who have low opinions of the abilities of black kids from the moment they enter the classroom. These teachers immediately write off black students as academic inferiors and do not challenge them sufficiently to achieve the skills necessary to perform well on standardized tests.
• The late John Ogbu, professor of anthropology at Berkeley, believed that broad cultural attributes among blacks — such as parental style, commitment to learning, and work ethic — bear a heavy responsibility for the black-white educational gap. Ogbu wrote in his recent book, Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement, that black students in the affluent homes of doctors and lawyers are looking at rappers in ghettos as their role models. Students talk the talk about what it takes to be a good student, Ogbu wrote, but few put forth the effort required to get good grades. This type of behavior is typical, Ogbu said, of racial minorities adapting to oppression and the lack of opportunity. Ogbu, much as Bill Cosby has done recently, also placed the blame on black parents. He believed that many black parents are not offering sufficient guidance, do not spend enough time helping with homework, and do not pay adequate attention to their children's educational progress.
• Black students in predominantly white schools who study hard are often the subject of peer ridicule. They are accused of "acting white" by other blacks. This so-called ghetto chic in the form of peer pressure to shun academic pursuits undoubtedly has a dragging effect on average black SAT scores.
• Black students may be subject to what Stanford psychology professor Claude Steele calls "stereotype vulnerability." Steele contends that black students are aware of the fact that society expects them to perform poorly on standardized tests. This added pressure put upon black students to perform well in order to rebut the racial stereotype in fact makes it more difficult for them to perform well on these tests.
• Black students in some urban schools are taught an Afrocentric curriculum that may serve to increase black pride and foster an awareness of black culture, but this form of education pays little attention to the subject matters that are covered on the SAT.
• Even middle-class blacks tend to be brought up in basically segregated surroundings. They are not taught the pathways and modes of thinking that are embedded in white culture and reflected in standardized tests. Black families that urge their children to go to college are often first-generation college graduates who grew up in households without the systems that support first-rate academic achievement.
• School administrators and guidance counselors often believe that black students are less capable and less able to learn. They routinely track black students at an early age into vocational training or into a curriculum that is not college preparatory. Black students are rarely recommended for inclusion in gifted education, honors, or Advanced Placement programs. Once placed on the slow academic track, most black kids can never escape. By the time black students are juniors and seniors in high school, they are typically so far behind their white counterparts in the critical subject areas necessary to perform well on standardized tests that they have little hope of ever matching the scores of whites on the SAT.
Almost No Blacks Among the Top Scorers
on the Scholastic Assessment Test
It is important to explain how the SAT racial scoring gap challenges affirmative action policies at the nation's highest-ranked colleges and universities. Under the SAT scoring system, most non-minority students hoping to qualify for admission to any of the nation's 25 highest-ranked universities and 25 highest-ranked liberal arts colleges need to score at least 700 on each portion of the SAT.
For admission to the very highest ranked, brand-name schools such as Princeton or MIT, applicants need scores of 750 to be considered for admission. Yet, as we shall see, only a minute percentage of black test takers score at these levels. Thus, if high-ranking colleges and universities were to abandon their policies of race-sensitive admissions, they will be choosing their first-year students from an applicant pool in which there will be practically no blacks.
Let's be more specific about the SAT racial gap among high-scoring applicants. In 2005, 153,132 African Americans took the SAT test. They made up 10.4 percent of all SAT test takers. But only 1,132 African-American college-bound students scored 700 or above on the math SAT and only 1,205 scored at least 700 on the verbal SAT. Nationally, more than 100,000 students of all races scored 700 or above on the math SAT and 78,025 students scored 700 or above on the verbal SAT. Thus, in this top-scoring category of all SAT test takers, blacks made up only 1.1 percent of the students scoring 700 or higher on the math test and only 1.5 percent of the students scoring 700 or higher on the verbal SAT.
If we eliminate Asians and other minorities from the statistics and compare just white and black students, we find that 5.8 percent of all white SAT test takers scored 700 or above on the verbal portion of the test. But only 0.79 percent of all black SAT test takers scored at this level. Therefore, whites were more than seven times as likely as blacks to score 700 or above on the verbal SAT. Overall, there are more than 39 times as many whites as blacks who scored at least 700 on the verbal SAT.
On the math SAT, only 0.7 percent of all black test takers scored at least 700 compared to 6.3 percent of all white test takers. Thus, whites were nine times as likely as blacks to score 700 or above on the math SAT. Overall, there were 45 times as many whites as blacks who scored 700 or above on the math SAT.
If we raise the top-scoring threshold to students scoring 750 or above on both the math and verbal SAT — a level equal to the mean score of students entering the nation's most selective colleges such as Harvard, Princeton, and CalTech — we find that in the entire country 244 blacks scored 750 or above on the math SAT and 363 black students scored 750 or above on the verbal portion of the test. Nationwide, 33,841 students scored at least 750 on the math test and 30,479 scored at least 750 on the verbal SAT. Therefore, black students made up 0.7 percent of the test takers who scored 750 or above on the math test and 1.2 percent of all test takers who scored 750 or above on the verbal section.
Once again, if we eliminate Asians and other minorities from the calculations and compare only blacks and whites, we find that 0.2 percent of all black test takers scored 750 or above on the verbal SAT compared to 2.2 percent of all white test takers. Thus, whites were 11 times as likely as blacks to score 750 or above on the verbal portion of the test. Overall, there were 49 times as many whites as blacks who scored at or above the 750 level.
On the math SAT, only 0.16 percent of all black test takers scored 750 or above compared to 1.8 percent of white test takers. Thus, whites were more than 11 times as likely as blacks to score 750 or above on the math SAT. Overall, there were more than 61 times as many whites as blacks who scored 750 or above on the math section of the SAT.
In a race-neutral competition for the approximately 50,000 places for first-year students at the nation's 25 top-ranked universities, high-scoring blacks would be buried by a huge mountain of high-scoring non-black students. Today, under prevailing affirmative action admissions policies, there are about 3,000 black first-year students matriculating at these 25 high-ranking universities, about 6 percent of all first-year students at these institutions. But if these schools operated under a strict race-neutral admissions policy where SAT scores were the most important qualifying yardstick, these universities could fill their freshman classes almost exclusively with students who score at the very top of the SAT scoring scale. As shown previously, black students make up at best between 1 and 2 percent of these high-scoring groups.
Looking to the Future
In the Grutter case upholding affirmative action in college admissions, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's decision expressed the goal of eliminating affirmative action over the next 25 years. At the moment there is no evidence that substantial progress toward closing the test scoring gap will occur. Thus, the huge and growing gap in SAT scores, and particularly the scores at the highest levels, becomes one of the nation's most urgent problems.
who should be held accountable and is it right? - Brandi - 04-24-2006 03:12 PM
I was just thinking are folks with money responsible for those without? It's nice of them to help but do they have to? What do they lose in helping, except cash, what do they sacrifice for their own families? Are their choices smart business moves for them? Just some thoughts, what do you guys think?
Re: who should be held accountable and is it right? - brianold - 04-30-2006 11:28 PM
Brandi Wrote:I was just thinking are folks with money responsible for those without? It's nice of them to help but do they have to? What do they lose in helping, except cash, what do they sacrifice for their own families? Are their choices smart business moves for them? Just some thoughts, what do you guys think?
i believe so. morally, yes.
the debate continues - brianold - 04-30-2006 11:29 PM
Omaha Segregation? Why I Support Senator Chambers & LB 1024
Blogged under Uncategorized by Dell on Wednesday 19 April 2006 at
This ran on the front page our black newspaper “The Omaha Star”
Why I Support Senator Chambers & LB 1024
By Dell Gines
When the initial One City One School District plan was advanced by the Omaha Public School district I supported it. Believing in the theory of accepting the better of two bad alternatives, I went on record as saying a district where resources were all shared in common under one banner (OPS) was better than the status quo of suburb schools versus urban schools. On the Fox 42 televised Town Hall meeting I made it clear that the ultimate issue was about race and class. I followed that comment up on my channel 22 television show that same night by arguing that the integration angle touted by OPS was a red herring used by OPS to mask its real desire for economic expansion. Even though I felt OPS was using race to drive attention away from its greater goal, the opportunity to ensure an equality of resources for our urban schools in the future lead me to weigh in on the side of OPS and the One City One School plan.
Senator Chambers recently made it possible for me to reject accepting the better of two bad alternatives and embrace one good one. Senator Chambers (and Senator Raikes) sponsored an amendment to Legislative Bill 1024 carving OPS up into three distinct learning communities while making provisions to have equality of funding across the board. I was ecstatic. In this amendment you take the best of the One City One School District plan, which was equality of revenue sharing for each school based upon student need, and combined it with the responsiveness of a smaller district that serves its respective community.
The beauty of this plan is that it allows us in North Omaha to control our schools in the way that we see fit. If we want to see a more aggressive and practical approach to education for our North Omaha children it would be on us, not someone from 120th & Dodge or 30th & L to implement it. We wouldn’t have to argue against representatives from other communities who may or may not have our North Omaha children’s best interest in mind. That is the way government is supposed to work, local control, local power.
Ironically though, OPS is once again using the red herring of ‘integration’ to shift attention away from the real issue, which Senator Chambers succinctly stated in the following quote:
“I am interested in the education of children in the school buildings that they attend,” he said. “I am not interested in separation. I am not interested in integration. I am interested in quality education.” - Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers
Any conversation on any school issue should begin and end with those two words, quality education. Who better to ensure that quality education is occurring in a school than an individual from the community where that school is located and the majority of school children attend? They know the issues, they know the parents, and they have a vested interest. Those who argue against this plan because of ‘integration & segregation’ clearly have lost sight of the purpose of school integration as derived from Brown vs. the Board of Education in the first place, which was quality education. Integration at the time was a tool used to accomplish quality education it was never meant to supplant it.
In a recent article titled Educational Integration: A Means not an End I stated:
Somewhere along the way, like is illustrated in the Omaha school fight, integration transfigured from being a means to achieve equality, to the panacea for all that ails blacks. So instead of evaluating education based upon the quality each child in either district is receiving, correlation is instead made between the level of integration and the quality of education, using bad deductive reasoning to infer that the former or lack thereof drives the latter.
The fact of the matter is that this concept of ‘black kids can’t be successfully educated unless they are around white kids’ is in and of itself patently racist, and illogical. The truth is black kids don’t need to be around whites to have a quality education and vice versa. It doesn’t take integration to teach reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic’. It doesn’t take integration to teach character, civic duty, and community responsibility. So until we reject integration as the end goal and become pragmatic in how we evaluate quality and equality and use that as a benchmark for educational achievement, we will always be wasting half of our time fighting for the means, and missing the goal of positive ends which is ensuring that all children, black and white, regardless of who they sit by in class can effectively read, write, and do rithmatic. – Dell Gines
So even if this new plan was an ‘all black’ district as people are charging it will be, my answer is, “So what? Are the kids receiving the quality education they deserve?” The fact is however it is not segregationist; any child would have a provision to go to either district with transportation provided. That provision means that the only material difference between the new plan and the OPS of today is that resources will be equal, and you will have more control over your schools.
Tell me again why exactly is OPS fighting this?
In conclusion, I firmly support Senator Chambers, and appreciate his work and innovativeness on this bill. I encourage you to support him on this matter too.
OUR COMMUNITY - OUR SCHOOLS - OUR CONTROL
28 Comments »
1. Comment by Constructive Feedback — April 20, 2006 @
Here is my concern:
If Blacks seek control over the resources in their schools - LET THEM MIGRATE TO A TRADITIONAL CITY and make use of the boundaries of the city to create a school district of their own. There will be defacto segregation in this case and it will pass the “smell test”.
I do not support having an “overlay” school district where race is the only property that routes a child to a particular school while each of the 3 districts govern the same ‘land mass’.
I do on the other hand support “Charter Schools”. The driver behind these schools is “local control” with public funding. Upon rereading your post - If the plan calls for 3 distinct “Charter Districts” where local control is given to each respective community then I could go along with this.
2. Comment by Dell — April 20, 2006 @
This is not ‘defacto’ segregation, being that the largest majority district will be composed of only 54% African American, and the Hispanic district will be composed of roughly 40% hispanic.
That is by nature of the demographics involved. Theoretically, and breaking down of the one large district into smaller districts will have the effect of concentrating a higher percentage of race into one particular area. As the Constitutional Law professor said yesterday on the radio, having a high concentration of race is not alone enough to prove ’segregation’.
Secondly, every student, with the poorest receiving the greatest opportunity will have the option to go to any district within the learning community that has space available, and whatever school they are in now, they will be able to stay in even when the school districts are redrawn.
So A) Race isn’t the only factor B) There is opportunity not to be stuck in a ‘racial’ district and C) Every district is required to have regular plans to ensure economic diversity within their system.
It is not segregation, and it has been hyperbolized to death by the media most of which probably have no clue as to what the bill actually is.
3. Comment by Raymond — April 20, 2006 @
Do you think the plan will pass Constitutional muster on appeal?
4. Comment by BT — April 20, 2006 @
It raises a couple of questions. First is the issue of tax money – which gets into the “Separate but equal” Constitutional issue.
My understanding is that there is a pool which is distributed across the districts on a per student rate. So unless the economics of all three districts are the same, one or more districts is subsidizing the other. Seems to me that there have been a fair number of battles about that in Kansas and Missouri over the KC and St Louis Schools.
Secondly, I absolutely will not have my tax dollars subsidizing Charter Schools or Vouchers. And I have a kid in private school, and pay taxes to support my local public schools.
5. Comment by Dell — April 20, 2006 @
No BT, what it does is within the learning community create a larger tax base (our schools are funded by property tax now). Then it is divided per student across the board. After that the state & funding mechanisms that make up the difference for english as second language, and poverty kick in so it really equalizes it.
What most people don’t know about the story is that it is part of a broader fight where OPS was trying to consume the suburban districts so they could capture the property tax dollars from the increasingly developed suburb properties.
As it stood, OPS was land locked, with all the economic growth going out west which made the suburban schools have the opportunity to increase their revenue from property tax, while the urban school district would be locked out.
This new plan equalizes all the revenue of any existing or new development so that it is impossible for suburban districts to increase their revenue stream while the urban school districts get locked out.
It is actually a pretty decent plan.
6. Comment by Dos Centavos — April 20, 2006 @
My Dos Centavos
It seems like a decent plan at first glance, if the funds are distributed EQUALLY across all the schools.
Think about where you grew up, the school buildings are essentially from the early 60s (guessing) with granted some new teachers and the surrounding suburban areas which has grown has new schools, new books and etc. If you live in the suburbs you are probably not complaining and if you are in the urban areas I hope you are…if not on general principal (GP) but for the sake of your kids.
Some would say its modern day segregation and cry out that it’s taking a step back but you know what….all across the US there already predominately one race schools. Whites have always moved out of a district when the school’s population becomes predominately black thereby making it more of one race. Hell even blacks fortunate enough to place their children in private school produce the same end result. So the concept is unofficially in place already.
And lastly….if the existing school system is not working…what’s wrong with trying something new? I understand human nature is to resist change but if you really think about it, you are essentially saying I would like to keep this mucked up school system the way it is.
I Don’t Know About Politics, But Have Common Sense
7. Comment by BT — April 20, 2006 @
It’s logical, but will it pass a court test?
It certainly beats any form of “commuter tax”.
DC has tried various forms of that and the only thing they have accomplished is to make Tysons Corner, Virginia larger than the city in terms of workforce - and to move the majority of black owned businesses to neighboring PG County in Maryland.
I’ve been a proponent of Northern Virginia seceeding from Virginia and forming a Greater Washington economic and political entity for years, along with the Maryland Counties around the city. Functionally it would be the wealthiest state in the nation on a per capita basis, with the highest level of education (nearly 70% have College Degrees).
But it isn’t even a possible gleam in the eye until DC gets their act togeher, which is slowly happening under the current mayor.
8. Comment by BT — April 20, 2006 @
Breaking News - Karl Rove to be indicted for his role in the outing of CIA Operative Valerie Plame.
So there is a reason behing TurnBlossom’s “reduced role”…
Kinda hard to get to work in the West Wing in a Prison jumpsuit.
9. Comment by james manning — April 20, 2006 @
I haven’t seen the story yet, but it would be nice.
As of this topic, I think it might be a good idea to break large school districts into smaller districts with more local control. Just because you bus a black kid to a white school does not mean that you are providing the means to educate that child.
10. Comment by Eric — April 20, 2006 @
Does anyone know what percentage do students get of the money that goes towards education?
11. Comment by hopscotch — April 20, 2006 @
It is a good idea to look around at the various OPS schools and compare with others. My children attend an OPS school near Burke. When my daughter visited the Liberty school, she commented that “They must be rich there,” because she noticed that Liberty had technology much more advanced than her own school has. Don’t assume that the urban schools are falling apart–OPS made a big push to renovate many of those schools. When Ernie Chambers talks about OPS schools so poor that they need donations to buy pencils…think about it. Exactly how expensive are pencils nowadays? I don’t know of any school that needs pencil donations. Schools need donations for many things but pencils are not on that list.
Urban schools have a reputation as schools with discipline problems and that’s what makes many families want to avoid them. If the discipline is not a problem, OPS needs to recognize that perception is flawed and then do something to repair that. I wish people would discuss the real problems with the troubled schools–low parental involvement and high dropout rates.
12. Comment by Dell — April 20, 2006 @
Hopscotch, and exactly how does OPS wanting to consume more (one city and one school) address any of those ‘discipline’ problems?
It returns us to the original argument of greater local control via school board under the new plan.
13. Comment by BT — April 20, 2006 @
As long as some balance can be arrived at in terms of economy of scale, that may work James.
But here is my problem. If I handpick a dozen pieces of lumber from the lumberyard, and I order a dozen over the Internet from Home Depot - there will be a huge difference in quality btween the hand picked lot and the wood Home Depot’s day laborers picked out of a bin.
That just isn’t the case with public versus the alternative schools.
Even with the additional burden of the Public schools having to support classes for kids with learning and physical challenges, kids for whom English is a second language - that isn’t the case.
Maybe, someone should look at the problem from another direction- setting up charter schools for LD, Special ed, and ESL…
Or is that too …
14. Comment by brotherbrown — April 20, 2006 @
I absolutely will not have my tax dollars subsidizing Charter Schools or Vouchers. And I have a kid in private school…
You mean to tell me you exercise CHOICE in your household and aren’t waiting for someone to offer you voucher for a tenth of the cost of private school before you make that CHOICE?
Somebody arrest this free thinker.
15. Comment by Dell — April 20, 2006 @
I will have to study the voucher/charter school issue more, but in general I am in favor of the principle.
16. Comment by P. Anthony Allen — April 20, 2006 @
Dell, here’s a couple of articles from the National School Boards Association reference charter schools vs. public schools. Across the U.S. the consensus is charter schools do no better, and in many cases worse, than the public school.
17. Comment by Raymond — April 20, 2006 @
I agree with P. Anthony on charter schools. They SUCK! Mostly because they are run in shadow format by the same public school system that runs the basic indoctrination centers called public schools. Charter schools for the most part are just different color roses grown from the same manure.
Every now and then one stand out, but there is not standard, tried and true model for their success and parents make the mistake of thinking they are the equivalent of superior PRIVATE institutions.
Most charter schools are just a rearrangement of the chairs on the Titanic deck.
In many cases where vouchers have been tried as in Florida before being ruled “unconstitutional,” they had the unintended affect of allowing garbage students into stellar private schools and infecting them with secular behaviors and lowering the academic averages.
There was a case in my child’s school where they let in a girl from a family of ghetto garbage and THEY SHOWED THEIR ASSES! The girl (who was named after a car) was on the playground telling Catholic school children how babies were MADE, teaching them “hunching,” cursing and telling the kids there as no Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. Her “parents?” attended a graduation event and came in late, dressed like hell and high water and we screaming her f#$%ed up name like they were at a football game.
She was not there the next semester.
18. Comment by Tafaraji — April 20, 2006 @
I knew it wouldn’t take long before you imploded.
19. Comment by Raymond — April 20, 2006 @
Well stop the presses and call Kanye! This is the FIRST time you’ve actually KNOWN something! LOL!!!
20. Comment by BT — April 20, 2006 @
Comment by brotherbrown — April 20, 2006 @
“You mean to tell me you exercise CHOICE in your household and aren’t waiting for someone to offer you voucher for a tenth of the cost of private school before you make that CHOICE?
Somebody arrest this free thinker.”
Comes from not being a conservative, I guess, BB.
Not waitin’ for a handout!
21. Comment by BT — April 20, 2006 @
Raylenetta: “There was a case in my child’s school where they let in a girl from a family of ghetto garbage and THEY SHOWED THEIR ASSES! … Her “parents?” attended a graduation event and came in late, dressed like hell and high water and we screaming her f#$%ed up name like they were at a football game.
She was not there the next semester. ”
You know Ralenetta - that might be because most people, unlike yourself don’t need to “graduate” 6th grade…
22. Comment by hopscotch — April 20, 2006 @
The “one school district” idea doesn’t address any of what I consider the real problems that get in the way of educating children. That has frustrated me from the beginning. Dr. Mackiel introduced the idea by talking a little about tax equity but he spent most of his time talking about segregation and racism. To my mind, those are not the biggest problems the troubled schools face. I’d bet they fall pretty far down the list of problems.
As for charter schools–I like the idea, but I don’t know enough about the subject. I think that children raised in families who value education will do well in almost any school because their education is reinforced at home. Children with families who don’t value education will have a tough time in any school. That’s why I would like to see a plan that addresses that problem. I also think that even the brightest students will have trouble in a school with lax discipline–and chronic discipline problems tend to come from those families who pay no attention to education.
I like the idea of smaller districts and local control but the idea that the color of the school board will determine the quality of education…that is a repulsive idea. I worry that the “learning community” board will grow into another layer of bureaucracy that chews up our tax money.
I don’t see this battle ending happily. If only OPS had concentrated on solving its real problems instead of stirring the pot about racism and segregation.
23. Comment by Dell — April 20, 2006 @
I don’t think that is the assumption. I think that individuals close to the community can influence the quality of the education. If those individuals are represenative of the group, then they will be a higher percentage minority.
Remember, there are both quantitative and qualitative aspects to education, the former being the reading, writing, and arithmatic, the latter being how it is taught, and the other informal and formal forms of education in the curriculum.
The fact of the matter is that OPS sucks at graduating African American kids in relation to the city graduation rate as a whole and they haven’t addressed that at all. Instead they keep talking about segregation and integration.
24. Comment by hopscotch — April 21, 2006 @
I’d like to know WHY OPS sucks at graduating African American kids. If a different administration can do better, then more power to them–but I’ll have to see it. Why am I skeptical? Because OPS is a good school district with good teachers. I don’t like arguments that OPS can’t educate black kids because that is awfully close to “black kids can’t learn as well as white kids.” And that simply isn’t true.
Something else is getting in the way of educating some kids–and they aren’t all black. What else do those students have in common if it isn’t the color of their skin? Maybe it is the lack of respect their community shows toward education. I’d like to hear other possibilities.
As for whether the color of the school board matters–I hope that is NOT the assumption, but didn’t Ernie Chambers say something about the color of the school board? He implied–or said flat out, I don’t remember–that a white school board wasn’t good for black kids.
I like your second paragraph, about qualitative and quantitative aspects. That’s where local control will shine.
25. Comment by Dell — April 21, 2006 @
Hop Scotch, you in a round about way are making my point for me. First off, I don’t care about what Ernie said, there were 31 other individuals who voted to enact the law and I am assuming that they don’t see the world the same way as Senator Chambers.
But when you discuss issues such as, “Maybe it is the lack of respect their community shows toward education” then you implicitly agree with my argument that individuals closer to the situation (as a general rule) have a better understanding of the unique challenges of the situation.
On the show last night, an individual called in and discussed the success of Sacred Heart and their virtual 0% drop our rate in a school that is overwhelmingly African-American. So it can be done, the question is what are the barriers that OPS faces in accomplishing that task?
Secondly, as I argued in the article, when you have a mammouth organization such as the Omaha Public School system, you have multiple competing interest as you increase the demographic diversity in the organization. The needs of a middle to upper middle class individual are different from the needs of a lower middle class individual and expecting one large organization to adequately address all the needs, when you have competing stakeholders is very difficult.
Thirdly in terms of a ‘different administration’, you can’t know until you try it and to try it you have to go directly against the power of the OPS monopoly, which as you see is difficult to do.
Overall is OPS a good school district, I would say yes, but when you say “OPS can’t educate black kids because that is awfully close to “black kids can’t learn as well as white kids.” And that simply isn’t true.” You have to look not at what you ‘feel’ but at the statistical reality. In the two zip codes with the highest concentration of black folks (68111, 68110) you have between the two a 20% less rate of highschool graduates. The district that serves this community is OPS. Therefore by a process of simple logic OPS does not do a good job of educating black kids (as it relates to children overall).
So do we allow OPS to continue on its rabid question for economic expansionism, or do we check OPS and say wait a minute things need to change specifically as it relates to how you educate minority children?
26. Comment by hopscotch — April 21, 2006 @
Yes, yes, yes. We are in agreement, Dell. I like the idea of smaller districts and local control. I wish the new, smaller districts well. I hope all children are better educated in the new system.
I’d still like to hear details of the new and better approach to educating children in schools that don’t have community support, community respect and desire for education. How will it be different? It isn’t enough to say that local control will be the difference. (And yes, I’m sure the details are a long way from being sorted out.)
It is exciting to see a world of possibilities out there.
27. Comment by Raymond — April 21, 2006 @
Local “control?” You’re dreaming right? There is still this entity called the NEA that will ensure there will be nothing called education occuring in public schools let alone “better” edcuation.
Local control however would do the trick IF you can achieve it.
Kill the NEA and watch American edcuation again become the world standard.
28. Comment by BT — April 21, 2006 @
Comment by Raymond — April 21, 2006 @
Local “control?” You’re dreaming right? There is still this entity called the NEA that will ensure there will be nothing called education occuring in public schools let alone “better” edcuation.
And the NEA controls the local school board budget…
There is no coincidence that Republican dominted states in the South and Midwest all have “Right to Work Laws” which limit or eliminate collective bargaining by Unions. Those same states consistently rank the lowest in educational achievement, and overwhelmingly populate the lower half of any staisitcal measuremnet of comparative educational achievement.
You own state, Florida ranks well in the bottom half in most independent educational rankings - and ranks BELOW Washington DC in graduation rates.
And DC isn’t even a state so it can’t average across a large population.
That white Rethugly only toilet you use a brain could really use a good flush and a dose of Tidy Bowl once in a while…
To allow both neurons to function properly.
in other places... - brianold - 04-30-2006 11:47 PM
Black caucus objects to school-board measure
By Jim Ash
DEMOCRAT CAPITOL BUREAU CHIEF
Voters would get to pick the leaders of their local school boards under a controversial measure the House approved Tuesday, over the heated objections of black lawmakers.
Rep. Curtis Richardson, D-Tallahassee, warned that the measure (HB 221) would limit opportunities for minority politicians, many of whom, such as himself, owe their careers to single-member districts. Richardson was the first black person elected to the Leon County School Board.
"There is nothing wrong with the current system of choosing chairmen of the boards," Richardson said.
The measure would allow counties that chose to do so to elect school-board chairs in an at-large election. Currently, school-board members chose their own leadership, a method critics of the legislation say increases the chance that a minority will get a shot at the top position.
The idea for the legislation comes from a panel in Orange County that suggested it as a way to make school-board chairs more visible and accountable, said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park.
"This is about increasing choices and accountability," Cannon said.
Cannon was surprised at the vehemence of the opposition, he said.
The House voted 72-43, mostly along party lines, to send the bill off to the Senate, where a companion measure is sponsored by Sen. Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden.
Rep. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa and one of the most vocal members of the black caucus, warned the measure represents a step backward.
"This will not allow people who look like me to serve as chairmen," Joyner said.
Contact Jim Ash at (850) 671-6547 or email@example.com
Originally published April 26, 2006
ernie convinces students that his plan is not segregation. - brianold - 04-30-2006 11:54 PM
Broward students call legislator they viewed as segregationist to explain himself
By Karla D. Shores
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Education Writer
April 26, 2006
In a small independent school set in a former Fort Lauderdale Jewish temple, three high school students leaned forward, gripped their list of questions, ready to demand answers Tuesday from the man they viewed as a segregationist.
"Will you be doing forced busing? What about mixed families, where will their kids go? What kind of teachers?"
Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers had heard the questions before. The state's lone black legislator wrote a bill that would break up the 45,000-student Omaha Public Schools into three smaller districts -- one mostly black, one mostly Hispanic, and one mostly white -- in an effort to ensure each district is funded equally.
In a matter of days, Chambers, 68, became a national figure when word of his controversial bill spread in mid-April. Gov. Dave Heineman signed the bill into law this month.
Students at Fort Lauderdale Preparatory School were outraged.
"We thought he was actually reversing what Martin Luther King said," senior Ashley Coffee, 18, said.
Alessandra Dzuba, 16, researched Chambers on the Internet after her teacher and school headmaster Larry Berkowitz mentioned Chambers in class.
"We were reading Martin Luther King's letter to Birmingham and we came across the question, `Is America segregated today?'" Dzuba said.
Berkowitz called Chambers, who agreed to be interviewed on the telephone by the students at the 20-year-old racially mixed campus that serves grades pre-kindergarten to 12.
"Are you pro-segregation?" asked Dzuba, Ashley Coffee, and Jerome Brooks, 16.
"This has nothing to do with race," Chambers said, weaving in and out of analogies. "If someone says I am segregating the district, it's like saying Ernie has made water wetter."
The new law separated the district by using existing school boundaries and will be fully implemented by 2008. It's expected to be challenged in court.
Coffee, 18, whose heritage of Japanese, Mexican, Polynesian, Jamaican and Italian more than earns her multicultural status, said the idea of segregation offended her.
"Where would I go? I just don't see what race has to do with it," Coffee said.
For 35 minutes the students debated with Chambers.
Before the interview was over, the outspoken politician whose progressive school funding views have made enemies and supporters worldwide, had won over each of the students.
"The news has been very misleading," Dzuba said. "This is really about equalized education. He was very down to Earth."
The students will share their interview with classmates this week. Berkowitz has lined up other noteworthy interviews for his students before. In 1997, he organized an online chat with former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
Karla Shores can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4552.