Omaha’s radical experiment in school integration could serve as a national model—though local resistance indicates it might be a tough sell.
Against all evidence, many believe the nation has already addressed the problem of school segregation. Court-ordered busing, the best known remedy, began in the 1970s and helped ease racial segregation and raise African American academic achievement. However, because it didn’t give parents choice, busing was a political disaster, and a short-lived one. Most cities, including Omaha, abandoned or at least reduced busing after 1980, a year that marked the peak of school integration. As a result, today African American and Latino students across the country attend more-segregated schools than at any point in the past 20 years. At the same time, poverty in those schools has become more concentrated: Increasing numbers of students of color now go to schools that have a majority of low-income attendees. Children at these schools, research shows, tend to fare worse academically.
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