by Kelly Amis
I was born and raised in a small town outside of Omaha, Nebraska and recently took the opportunity to spend about two months there with my family. It turns out a lot of education reform is happening in Omaha that could make major, positive changes for the low-income, minority students who have not benefitted from great schools as much of the rest of the city has.
When you ask education leaders in Omaha why the achievement gap is so glaring, you get the usual answers, "Those kids don't care, they're too poor to achieve at high levels, their parents don't get involved, etc. etc." Fortunately we know that when schools expect ALL students to achieve, and give them great teachers who believe in their ability, students can beat the odds and rise above the challenges.
This week, the Nebraska state legislature is considering a bill that would create a charter school program for Omaha. It would start small--just five schools--but they would be created in the neighborhoods that most desperately need better school options. (And we know from research that opening a great school in a typically underserved area helps improve/motivate the existing schools around it to do better. = win-win).
Here's the letter I am submitting for the record today as the Nebraska legislature's Education Committee begins consideration of the bill: