Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"One City, X School Districts" : OPS (non-)Debate Update

by Kyle Michaelis
The Lincoln Journal-Star reports that Speaker of the Legislature Kermit Brashear, a man with whom I rarely agree, may also be advocating a special legislative session this summer concerning Omaha school boundaries. The differerence, however, is that he first wants the legislature to pass this hastily thrown-together OPS bill, promising they will fix it at this later, as yet unspecified date.

This is a dangerous and foolish course of action, as the appearance of resolution can very easily pass for the real thing. The legislature may only get one chance to do this right. Senators should refrain from taking any further action until they can give this issue the open and honest debate that the people deserve.

Brashear wants this bill out of the way. Governor Heineman demands immediate satisfaction for the suburban voters he's made such an irresponsible point to woo before the Republican primary. If these two men get what they want, I have very little confidence that the will can survive in the legislature to step beyond this short-term solution which may ultimately prove such a long-term disaster.

The proposal to divide OPS into three districts has now passed its first vote by an over-whelming vote of 39-9. It may well be steaming on its way to victory. But, I fear many senators do not know what they are agreeing to. This seems to be more about the desire to cut OPS down to size (both literally and metaphorically) than anything else. Such hostilities, however, should not dictate state law nor control our children's futures.

The time has not come for so drastic a measure. Debate has not been sufficient, and the ideas at the proposals' heart have not been explained to a degree anywhere close to what the rightfully concerned citizens of Omaha deserve.

I cannot say this is the wrong plan. It's consequences are as vague and undefined for me as they are for the very Senators who today stand in support of it. What more proof could the people of Nebraska possibly need that, regardless of this plan's merits, this is definitely the wrong time for its passage?


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