The End of Omaha Public Schools

Omaha Schools Split Along Race Lines,” by Scott Bauer, Associated Press, 13 April 2006, http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1841310 (hat-tip: The Corner).

Omaha Public Schools,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 Apr 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Omaha_Public_Schools&oldid=48371184..

“Winter came to Omaha
It left us looking like a bride
A million perfect snowflakes now
And no two are alike
So it’s hard for me imagining
The flaws in this design”

Theme from Pinata, from “Digital Ash in a Digital Urn,” by Bright Eyes

“We create a new people.

The next stage,
you will see!

Yasser Arafat, sampled in “Hezbollah Radio Advert,” by Muslimgauze

The big news is the end of the Omaha Public School District. The secret news is the triumph of complex adaptive systems.

ernie_chambers_md
Ernie Chambers, Architect of Destruction

On June 6, 2005, Omaha Superintendent decide to increase his power by annexing 25 schools currently part of the Elkhorn, Millard, and Ralston public school districts. Using an obscure Nebraska doctrine called “One City, One School district,” Dr. Mackiel planned to increase the centralizing influence of the Omaha Public Schools, the Office of the Superintendent, and, least of all, himself.

What he didn’t count on was complex adaptive systems.


The blow-back was severe. Nebraska’s legislature responded by passing a law in April 2006 creating an amorphous “Omaha Learning Community.” Yet the Unicameral then proceeded to tear OPS apart.

Senator Ernie Chambers, a traditional hero to Nebraska’s Left, used the opportunity of Omaha’s education flux to introduce a bill to split OPS into three smaller school districts. Citing OPS’s history of segregation (a charge that Dr. Mackiel no doubt denies), Chambers proposed creating a majority white, majority black, and largely hispanic school district. This way, according to Chambers’ logic, each community will be in charge of its own future.

Yesterday, the Legislature approved the measure. Governor David Heineman signed the law. The dismember of Omaha Public Schools is the law.

Will the reform work? Will it be better for whites, blacks, and latinos, parents and children, residents and taxpayers? I have no idea. I am as clueless as an Education Department bureaucrat, and Justice Department lawyer.

Yet the “global brain” isn’t clueless. Our world is a , where winning solutions are rewarded and losing solutions are punished. Well designed solutions become popular and thrive, while poorly designed solutions are shunned and die.

Nebraska’s devolutionary perspective with education in her largest city will be watched across the country. Papers in Arkansas, California, Indiana, , Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Washington, DC, Washington State, West Virginia, and around the world are following the news, running the AP story by Scott Bauer..

In a centralized state, like France, this sort of experimentation would be impossible. Instead of harnessing the power of complex adaptive systems through a federal government, dying countries like France put their faith in experts, soviet-style decision making, and “intelligent design.” The evolutionary advantage of complex adaptive systems are clear, from the United States of America to the Unix computer system.

The Courts should sit back, and we should all see if this reform makes education in Omaha better or worse. Trust reality, not Franco-Soviet-style “experts.”