A step in the wrong direction

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education, that the “separate but equal” doctrine is a fallacy and doesn’t exist.

We guess legislators in Nebraska missed that week of history class.

According to CNN.com, the state legislature voted last week to create separate school districts in which one school would have a black majority, another would have a white majority, and a third would have a Hispanic majority.

Essentially, it is segregation.

Supporters say black parents are happy about this because, as a majority at the school, their students now will have a chance to obtain the same level of education as their white counterparts.

Ernie Chambers, a black Senator from Nebraska, has been largely in favor of the bill. He says the schools black students currently attend lack the resources of other schools. He believes the students would be better off if they were the majority and therefore had more control over the district. Chambers insists the new bill is not segregation because the neighborhoods and schools never really integrated in the first place.

Opponents say this is a step in the wrong direction. We couldn’t agree with them more.

What kind of example is this setting for the students? Are the legislators who voted in favor of this bill saying the only way to achieve equality is to separate the students by race? And how can they be absolutely sure that each school district would receive equal funding? Isn’t that what happened the last time the government decided to have separate schools?

In a world fueled by debates about race, this choice seems counterintuitive. A valuable resource these students would be missing is diversity. Diversity seems to be a token-vocabulary word nowadays, but it is still important. Being able to share in and learn from each other’s cultures is an essential part of the educational system. To take that away is to shortchange the students.

We understand the desire to have minorities control their own districts as a form of empowerment. But why can’t we make all students equal while still attending school together? Why does it have to be one or the other?

The school districts aren’t set to split up until the 2008 school year, which gives lawmakers plenty of time to switch their decision. We can only hope they take a look at the history books to see that separate schools aren’t the answer to any problem.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the editorial board of the Daily Kent Stater.