Monday, June 13, 2005


The Omaha Public Schools admits it wants to annex most schools in Millard and Ralston, and, in the future, Elkhorn’s, to get the juicy property taxes and higher test scores of the rich suburbs.

In other words, it wants to cannibalize them to conceal its own shortcomings, both in revenue and in academic methodology. OPS has already been embarrassed nationally by Education Week (
www.edweek.org) in recent years for having one of the nation’s largest achievement gaps between white and black students.

Folding in those relatively higher suburban test scores to outrageously low scores in the inner-city for a higher overall average might trick the public into thinking those inner-city kids are doing OK . . . when they’re not.

OPS wants what’s best for OPS -- NOT necessarily what’s best for the academic achievement and future prospects of all of the children in the entire Omaha metropolitan area.

In fact, what OPS does in the way of curriculum and instruction is NOT what’s best for kids – and it shows, in their test scores, which are considerably lower than the scores posted by the same demographical groups of Omaha-area children in private schools.

Minority parents hate that. In fact, all parents hate that, because we hate to see evidence of racism in our public schools. But it’s hard to call it anything else. So it’s natural that the suburban parents fear that OPS’ failed methods and curriculum will infect the reasonably good systems they have built up in the western ‘burbs if this takeover goes through.

All the sweetness and light about OPS wanting to share the joys of “diversity” across the metro area with this takeover is NOT what most minority parents want from their schools. They want better learning for all kids, including their own. They do NOT want political propaganda or forced “equity” that hurts other people’s kids.

And here’s proof:


What Minority Parents Want

Q. The achievement gap persists between white children, and those of color, despite the immense amounts of money we’re spending on public education. What do parents of minority children think about this?

According to two national surveys, most African-American and Hispanic parents want standardized tests, strict curriculum, effective discipline and teachers with high expectations . . . exactly like white parents.

That flies in the face of what is often advocated by educators on behalf of minority parents. Often, we’re told that minority parents don’t want strict curriculum and discipline. But that’s not true.

When you hear educators say that what’s best for minority kids is “diversity curriculum,” “group projects” and “cultural awareness,” don’t believe it for a second. Groups like the New York Collective of Radical Educators (
www.nycore.org), who oppose standardized tests as being racially biased, simply do not speak for the majority of minorities.

Here’s what the two national surveys found:

-- African-American parents, by a factor of 8 to 1, favor making schools focus on raising academic achievement rather than promoting racial integration and diversity. They want the public accountability of publishing standardized test scores separated by racial groups, in order to expose the disparities and force schools to change. Seven out of 10 say that white teachers have lower expectations for black students than for white students, and they want that to change, too. Though 28% agree that standardized tests contain racial bias, they still support them. 1998 Public Agenda survey, “New Study Explores Views of Black and White Parents Toward Our Nation’s Schools,”

-- Hispanic parents agree by a factor of 3 to 1 that standardized tests should be a key focus in public schools, and test scores are a good determinant for grade promotion and graduation. Two-thirds agreed with the minimum standards put in place by the federal legislation, No Child Left Behind. 2003 study reported in the Pew Hispanic Center/Kaiser Family Foundation National Survey of Latinos: Education, www.pewhispanic.org

Homework: Book, “Whose America: Culture Wars in the Public Schools” by Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of educational history, New York University (Harvard, 2002)

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