In that vein, particularly in regards to the Omaha metro's long-brewing battle over Nebraska's "One City, One School District" law, I must ask the state legislature to slow down, take a deep breath, and not get carried away by the rush to get things done....at least, not to the point that they are doing the wrong thing without recognizing the consequences of their actions.
While the legislature's desire to bring some resolution to this controversy is commendable, the haste with which the underlying issues are being addressed, discarded, and hardly debated clearly demonstrates that state senators neeed to disengage from the perilous path they have been rushing along these last few days of the 2006 legislative session.
Frankly, the haphazardous way in which certain senators are piecing together LB1024 is cause for great concern. That the state legislature would even consider so drastic a measure as splitting up Omaha Public Schools into three districts with the clock ticking and so little opportunity for public comment is incredibly disturbing.
That this action is being done in the name of "local control" of schools is even downright ludicrous and insulting - not a single Omaha resident has VOTED for a resolution, a state senator, or even a school board member running on such an agenda. Honestly, this plan has become a burdensome example of state control and state power no matter its supposed intentions to the contrary.
Under the time constraints and with the Education Committee's failure to come together under a single comprehensive proposal, state senators are simply biting off more than they can chew - doing a great disservice to themselves, the people of Omaha, and the rest of the important business that stands before them by undertaking this effort. The desire to do good is simply out-weighed by the enormous potential for evils....for which the students and families of Omaha will be the ones who suffer, perhaps for decades to come.
There is not the time to address this issue properly in the few days remaining of this session. It's unfortunate but true. My suggestion: move on and get back to work on the numerous issues that are no less important but are far less reaching in scope and risk. At this point, the Omaha School District fight is a black hole that could very well engulf everything else on the legislature's agenda. As such, it must be set aside.
That's not a call for inaction. It's a call to reason. This fight will be resolved one way or another - mechanisms (i.e. courts) are already in place to see to that. Though unlikely, compromise also remains a possibility. Who knows - the state senate's anarchistic approach to the controversy might be recognized as so obviously dangerous by all parties involved that they will realize this is an issue to resolve between themselves if they want to avert total disaster.
Of course, political pressure from the likes of Governor Heineman seek immediate resolution, but that's more than the body can provide in any acceptable form under the circumstances. Desiring action isn't enough. If Heineman is so insistent that the legislature take up this issue in full, he should announce his intention to call a special session where in it can be done right. Otherwise, let the cards fall where they may.
Because what's going down now is an ungodly mess so littered with legislative landmines that it's hard to imagine a single step forward ending in anything but tragedy for the students of Omaha, be they black or white, rich or poor. Take a time-out. Take a step back. Just don't take so many people's futures into your hands without being prepared for the consequences.