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Brown vs. Brown?
April 17, 2006 12:55 PM   Subscribe

Segregation. Elimination. Two different accounts of bizarro things happening in USA schools. [via]
posted by dirtynumbangelboy (35 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
To clarify:

By 'bizarro' I mean 'seems like overturning Brown v.,, but with a black representative involved, wtf?' in the first case, and 'strange ramifications of security protocols' in the second.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:56 PM on April 17, 2006


So, the segregation is a mis-guided attempt at positive-discrimination. Shocking...
posted by RufusW at 1:06 PM on April 17, 2006


That seems... kind of misguided.
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on April 17, 2006


Only the Supreme Court (in practice) can overturn its own decisions. More accurate would be seemingly contrary to the spirit of Brown.

Ironically, however, this is definitely in the spirit of the "majority-minority" approach to redistricting that followed the Voting Rights Act -- and which the Court has taken a jaundiced eye toward, though it seems to work politically because it pleases members of both constituencies.

I think the test here -- and it is sure to be litigated -- is whether the three districts so created each uphold Brown. By separating the districts, each one will individually have to serve all its citizens, and whites won't be able to send their kids out of black schools to white magnet schools across town. The long run question would be whether this would have the effect of redlining the majority-minority school districts, if white flight occurs within the city.
posted by dhartung at 1:12 PM on April 17, 2006


"Supporters said the plan would give minorities control over their own school board and ensure that their children are not shortchanged in favor of white youngsters."

Is this really the problem? Is the problem that school boards are earmarking, say, $14,000 in expenditures for each white student, and only $10,000 for each black student?

Are school boards going to institute different teaching styles/curricula for students of different racial groups?
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 1:12 PM on April 17, 2006


Chambers said the schools attended largely by minorities lack the resources and quality teachers provided others in the district. He said the black students he represents in north Omaha would receive a better education if they had more control over their district.

This measure is merely a Band-Aid on a wound which hasn't healed for 52 years now. The real problem for these schools is adequate funding. Unfortunately, I don't think Chambers will get the resources or quality of teachers by giving his district more control. The issue isn't about control- its strictly about funding.
posted by j-urb at 1:15 PM on April 17, 2006


"When there's a nuclear attack, that's when buckets are used..." Well, I'm glad that they're prepared.
posted by octothorpe at 1:16 PM on April 17, 2006


"I proclaim publicly that I favor ending government involvement in education."
posted by oncogenesis at 1:25 PM on April 17, 2006


It's unfortunate that the principal calling a lockdown in order to prevent the students from attending a rally is going to be overshadowed by the fact that during the lockdown, people had to relieve themselves in buckets.

Of course that's bad, but it seems like the elephant in the room is the fact that the principal had no right to call for a lockdown of any kind.
posted by odinsdream at 1:25 PM on April 17, 2006


Damn you octothorpe. You beat me to it.

Oh well, with Iran arming up, the time seems ripe to invest in bucket futures.

*checks for mushroom cloud, eyes bucket* Damn, have to walk to the bathroom. But one day, one day I will use you Mr. Bucket, one day.....


Better double check my duct tape supply while I am at it.
posted by a3matrix at 1:25 PM on April 17, 2006


Ernie Chambers once called for a boycott of one of my plays. Prodest moment in my life.

There was a time when the other state senatorsjokingly tried to rezone Chambers' district so that it was part of Iowa. He's quite a blowhard, and famous for his abuse of the filibuster. If things do not go Chambers' way, he will shut you down. He'll also insult youfrom the floor of the Unicameral, because you can say anything you want there, even libel, and be free from legal repercussions.

That being said, he's sort of a beloved figure in Omaha.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2006


"Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin ... the great equalizer of the conditions of men - the balance-wheel of the social machinery. It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility toward the rich; it prevents being poor." ~ Horace Mann

"The better the citizenry as a whole are educated, the wider and more sensible public participation, debate and social mobility will be...Highly sophisticated Élites are the easiest and least original thing a society can produce. The most difficult and the most valuable is a well-educated populace." ~ John Ralston Saul

Not everyone believes these things should occur.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:32 PM on April 17, 2006


Omaha used a system of manget schools to encourage integration. One of the best was Omaha North High, which is located in a majority black neighborhood. It's too bad that they're giving up on that.
posted by Alison at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2006


Who doesn't believe these things should occur? In America, I mean?
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2006


From oncogenesis' link:
Did Public Schools Help Kill Terri Schiavo?

I knew all along it was public school masquerading as a doctor!!
posted by ozomatli at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2006


"When there's a nuclear attack, that's when buckets are used," Brown told the Los Angeles Times. The principal "followed procedure. She made a decision to follow the handbook. She just misread it."

Profiles In Courage

"Holy shit, there are millions of brown people marching on Washington!
What the hell do we do now? Give me the fucking manual, hurry up, hurry up.
Damn it, where's the index? Here it is, "Washington" ok, "Mall" no, that's not it,
"map of" Jesus fucking Christ, come on, come on, "marches" ah there it is,
'brown people" page 123, ok, don't panic, don't panic, 110, 120, 132, ok, ok,
MARGE, LOCK IT DOWN AND MAKE EVERYONE SHIT IN A BUCKET."
posted by Armitage Shanks at 1:39 PM on April 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm of two minds on the Omaha issue. On the one hand, state sponsored segregation is clearly bad and has been used to hinder minority students in the past.

On the other hand, segregation is not the worst evil in the field of public education, bad schools are. One of the major problems with segregation is that it frequently leads to bad schools. If handing control of the schools more directly to the communities involved leads to better schools, then that would be for the best. The fact that it leads to a certain level of de facto segregation would be sufferable in that instance, as far as I'm concerned, especially if the schools are poorly integrated already.

Obviously we can't know if localizing the control will result in better schools, but I can easily see how it would. Sure funding is an issue, but fundamentally school funding is a secondary factors to things parental and student involvement. It seems like these could be substantially improved by breaking the school district up.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 2:00 PM on April 17, 2006 [1 favorite]


“Who doesn't believe these things should occur? In America, I mean?” - posted by fugitivefromchaingang

Apart from the movement against public schools in general in the U.S. (for a variety of tax or religious issues) - it looks like the Omaha legislature and Gov. Dave Heineman doesn’t.

I suspect ‘control’ issues mask money issues, most particularly here. You pointed out the disparity in student spending yourself. Should be a big red flag.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:06 PM on April 17, 2006


In case of a nuclear attack, I won't need the bucket. My pants will be full already.
posted by Kickstart70 at 2:15 PM on April 17, 2006


The state of public education in America: Better get a bucket.
posted by psmealey at 2:18 PM on April 17, 2006


In the Bizarro world, a cube-shaped planet known as "Htrae" (Earth spelled backward), society is ruled by the Bizarro Code, which states that it is a crime to do anything well or to make anything perfect or beautiful

me no like bizarro Ahamo
posted by AllesKlar at 2:29 PM on April 17, 2006


One thing that worries me about giving local communities more power over schools is how much that's going to change the curriculum. How much more ID nonsense is going to creep in from parents?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:54 PM on April 17, 2006


Is this really the problem? Is the problem that school boards are earmarking, say, $14,000 in expenditures for each white student, and only $10,000 for each black student?--me

I suspect ‘control’ issues mask money issues, most particularly here. You pointed out the disparity in student spending yourself. Should be a big red flag. --smed

Sorry--that was a hypothetical. I pulled those numbers out of the air. That's why I used the word "say." I was just raising a question--do they really think this is about control of the school board? I didn't mean to confuse. I should have been more clear.

That said, I doubt that the Omaha legislature and the governor want to deny kids an equal opportunity at education. You may think their way of going about it is wrong. But in the case of schools that are clearly not working--and I'm not familiar with Omaha public schools, specifically, but I am somewhat familiar with those of New York and New Orleans, and some of them definitely are (not working)--I think it's better to try new things, even if they sometimes open people up to charges of being against public education.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 3:06 PM on April 17, 2006


I don't understand this at all, why is it so important to keep kids away from these rallies?
posted by delmoi at 3:19 PM on April 17, 2006


delmoi, I assume it's not important to keep them away from rallies per se, but rather important to keep them in school. Clearly, the principal overreacted, but almost any principal is going to do something to prevent a large portion of his or her student body from leaving on a school day, and rightly so.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 3:29 PM on April 17, 2006


Astro Zombie: You, a MeFite, wrote Minstrel Show?!? Holy shit! That was huge!

I'm just realizing I missed its February reprise here in Omaha, and am pretty pissed ... I'm sure it'll be back at the Blue Barn eventually?

Mr. Zombie makes a good point about Ernie Chambers. He

fugitivefromchaingang: Part of this plan is meant to solve this funding inequality. All metro area districts - including the three formed from the ashes of Omaha Public Schools - would be placed in a "learning community" which would share a single funding base. The idea is money would go where it's needed, not just to rich white kids. (But sssh! Don't tell the soccer moms that! They're so glad Johnny's school won't become part of OPS that they haven't noticed their taxes are going downtown, now.)

Would anyone be interested in a comprehensive FPP covering this issue? It's so complex, no five-minute CNN story can get it quite right. Or maybe a glance at the rabid awesomeness that is Ernie Chambers?
posted by Sfving at 3:42 PM on April 17, 2006


Sorry, that third paragraph was supposed to read:

Mr. Zombie makes a good point about Ernie Chambers. He completely dominates the Unicameral with his outlandish stunts and filibusters. And remember, Nebraska only has one house in its legislative branch, so Chambers' domination is complete and total. He vehemently fights for his own district, predominantly black and poor, using any tool at his disposal, even dirty tricks.

A few years ago there was a constitutional amendment to protect hunting, trapping and fishing. Chambers said this was a ridiculous right to protect - this state would never ban the right to kill small animals! He proposed a constitutional amendment to protect these rights as well:

"Sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening, drinking a glass of cold lemonade, dreamily watching the silvery moon rise to begin its journey across a darkening velvet sky powdered with stardust."
posted by Sfving at 3:56 PM on April 17, 2006


“I doubt that the Omaha legislature and the governor want to deny kids an equal opportunity at education.”

I wouldn’t confuse overt motive with covert intention. No one wants to - for example - give better treatment to the white victims of hurricane Katrina than the black victims. It just seems to happen though. And typically it’s money that’s involved. I think your hypothetical is apt, and it’s probably what will end up happening.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:02 PM on April 17, 2006


Hey! Somebody knows about my plays?

I imagine it will be back at the Blue Barn eventually. There's also talk of taking it on the road next year. We invited Chambers to see the play, arguing that he might actually want to know something about it before trying to destroy it economically (he described it as"walking through a munitions plant with a lit mathc," or something similar.) He declined. Oddly, his call for a boycott actually seemed to improve the size of the audience, even among African-Americans from Omaha, who shruggeg off Chambers' condemnation and seemed to think he was something of a well-intentioned dope sometimes.

It's sort of amazing how segregated Omaha is. I was hired by a faith-based social justic organization to write a play about race relations in Omaha, and, to that end, we held a series of public discussions. The black people who showed up were of the opinion that racism is constant, the white people who showed up often thought that we were in a post-racism world and wondered why we even needed to have such a discussion.

Omaha is one of the most racially segregated communities I have ever livedin (and I have lived in Los Angeles and New Orleans). North Omaha, which Chambers represents, is predominantly black. South Omaha is heavily Hispanic. And West Omaha, which is the closest thing Omaha has to a suburb (and keeps pushing further and further west), is almost entirely white. Many people who live west of 72nd street are loathe to go east, convinced, I suppose, that Omaha's genial and often empty downtown is some sort of cesspool of crime.

I drank at a neighborhood bar on Saddle Creek called The Lynx Lounge, which was mostly black, and patrons often expressed surprise that I would come in. I also often thrift-shopped in North Omaha, and discovered that many whites in Omaha, even those who were ostensibly not racist, never dared to go there. There is less interaction between blacks and whites in Omaha than I have eer experienced, and it's odd, as Omahans in general are about as friendly a group of people as you are likely to meet.

By the way, Malcolm X was born in Omaha.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:21 PM on April 17, 2006


"Sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening, drinking a glass of cold lemonade, dreamily watching the silvery moon rise to begin its journey across a darkening velvet sky powdered with stardust."

I'd vote for that.

Daily Howler spends a lot of time looking at the root issues of the various problems with American schools. He is opinionated, but always a good read.
posted by Falconetti at 9:46 PM on April 17, 2006


This is like some race to see how fast we can go backwards as a society? or some sick bet?

unbelievable--as so many things are nowadays, including the new sex ed.
posted by amberglow at 9:47 PM on April 17, 2006


One of the biggest problems we have in this country is apathy. Regardless of where the kids are leaning in this debate, I would love to them out demonstrating and becoming involved. Schools, however, are not exactly democratic institutions and actually do a lousy job of teaching democratic principles. Sadly, the schools are so strapped for funds, all they can think of is ADA (average daily attendance).

Integration is not easy, and never has been. For one thing, doing it right costs more money than doing it badly. Carrots work better than sticks, but carrots cost money, and since our neighborhoods are anything but integrated even though by choice, you can't have effective integration without bussing. Buses cost money. There may be decent people who are giving up on integration, feeling it just isn't working, but does anyone really believe there was such a thing as "separate and equal?"

On top of that, we have a political party that has vowed from the outset to get rid of public education entirely. Your children's education is your problem. If you think that segregated schools are a bad idea, can you imagine the effect of a fully operational voucher system. Say, for instance, that the government contributes a $1000 voucher for each student. Now wealthy parents will have little trouble providing more than the $1000 voucher and "their" schools as a consequence will be well funded. But for the children of poor and even middle class parents, it is going to be much harder to provide the extra funds and the kids are going to have marginal facilities, lesser quality teachers and will end up reading cast-off ten year old books discarded by the wealthy schools. Ultimately, I do not believe that this right wing element believes in federal funding of schools at all, except as a means of coercing schools to follow federal rules.

Education is a difficult process in the best of times. But when the education system is used as a political football, there is no really commitment to educating, only to using the system and the kids for political gain. That is criminal and unconscionable. If we are to succumb to the idea that a good education is a luxury for the privileged few, then we are turning back centuries of progress and asking for a return to the dark ages. Perhaps, that is what some want, but, I doubt they will like their new found "utopia" once they have achieved it.
posted by phewbertie at 10:48 PM on April 17, 2006


But for the children of poor and even middle class parents, it is going to be much harder to provide the extra funds and the kids are going to have marginal facilities, lesser quality teachers and will end up reading cast-off ten year old books discarded by the wealthy schools.

Why will the kids have "lesser quality teachers?" Because the teachers won't be paid as much? Are you aware that public schools teachers, on average, make more than private school teachers? And in New York State, for instance, public school teachers in New York City make the same amount that teachers in Westchester County public schools make.

The idea that inner-city public school teachers are crap is a pervasive one. Why do people believe this?

Also, regarding "reading cast-off ten year old books discarded by the wealthy schools." I've never noticed that bright, shiny books turned kids into readers, while older, mustier books discouraged kids from reading. Kids read if they're taught early how to do it, and to do it right; if they're encouraged both at school and at home; and if they get material that's interesting and entertaining to read. I'm not saying that one group of kids should get more nice things than another. But providing an equal number of shiny things at school will not result in equal outcomes when backgrounds are so different.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 7:55 AM on April 18, 2006


I'm not sure Westchester is the best example of equal chances of learning in the US?

Bronxville spends about twice as much per student as other districts such as the Bronx.
posted by pwedza at 4:15 PM on April 18, 2006


Bronxville is in Westchester County, but The Bronx is in NY City--totally different funding setups and systems.
posted by amberglow at 6:35 PM on April 18, 2006


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