In Omaha, Racial Segregation of Schools Is a Fact of Life, But a New Plan Seeks to Make the Best of a Bad Situation

The city of Omaha’s public schools are 46 percent white, 31 percent black, and 20 percent Hispanic. Now, the city is breaking up its public school district into three separate entities. Because of rigid residential segregation in the city, one of the new school districts is nearly all white, one is predominantly black, and one is predominantly Latino.

Proponents of the plan, including state senator Ernie Chambers, the only black in the state legislature, believe the new system will give blacks greater control over school resources. He believes that schools in black neighborhoods were being shortchanged in the allocation of resources by the white-dominated school administration in the citywide district. Chambers stated that since busing to increase racial integration of the city’s schools had been abolished, the schools were already segregated by race and that the new administrative formula would have no impact on the racial makeup of schools.