America's Wire Releases Story About Innovative Nebraska Program That Brings Diversity To Some Highly Segregated Public Schools

Jan 25, 2013, 08:59 ET from America's Wire

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WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- America's Wire today released a story about a trailblazing educational program called the Learning Community that is providing students in Nebraska opportunities to attend diverse schools in highly segregated areas.

Written by journalist and scholar, Susan Eaton, the story details student experiences at the Wilson Focus School, part of metropolitan Omaha's Learning Community. Created by the state legislature in 2007, the Learning Community is designed to reduce funding disparities between Omaha and its suburbs and to create more socioeconomic diversity in schools.

"Eleven school districts pool money that the Learning Community then redistributes via a needs-based formula," Ms. Eaton writes. "The money also provides free transportation to certain students who wish to attend schools not located in the districts where they live. Finally, Learning Community dollars pay for an array of education-related services, including high-quality preschool, to young people and their families who live in Omaha's poorest neighborhoods."

She writes that the "Learning Community emerged following anguished debate over the kinds of messy issues most elected leaders, even in ostensibly more progressive states, prefer to avoid discussing – segregation, economic inequality, social cohesion and righting past wrongs of discrimination. There is still a lot of hopefulness surrounding the Learning Community, both locally and nationally, among civil rights advocates, educational leaders and scholars. But it is not clear that the program will survive the political threats that it faces."

In the article, Ms. Eaton also notes that the Learning Community is a light counterweight in a region that records some of the highest rates of inequality in the nation between whites and blacks and between whites and Latinos, particularly in jobs and income. According to the Urban Institute, Omaha ranks 91st of 100 metros (100 represents the largest gap) on these two measures. "The region's high rates of residential segregation earn it a "D" on the Washington-based Urban Institute's Metrotrends report card," Ms. Eaton writes.

This story, as well as other articles and commentaries, are available free of charge from America's Wire.  Go to  and click downloads (right column) to publish the article. America's Wire provides mainstream newspapers, community papers, websites, ethnic publications and wire services with stories and commentaries reporting on structural inequities and the communities impacted. America's Wire is operated by the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education.

For more information on the Learning Community, visit

Michael K. Frisby

SOURCE America's Wire