We are sure that Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Cheryl Logan is fully confident that her plan for high school academies and career pathways would boost student success.
And we are cautiously relieved that the school district slowed down implementation of the changes to now hold information sessions and field parents’ questions.
Logan acknowledged to The World-Herald’s Emily Nitcher the plan got off to a “wobbly start.”
That’s an understatement. In fact, many parents felt steamrolled and left in the dark as the changes initially moved toward adoption without plans for a public vote from the school board. Parents were both frightened and outraged — because the stakes are no less than their children’s future.
So it is important not just that the plan be outlined, not just that the district present an informational video, not just that parents get a chance to ask questions. They, along with teachers and building administrators, must be truly heard.
Everyone wants the same thing here: More opportunities and better outcomes for young Omahans. While parents are not educators expert in how to achieve these things, they mustn’t be disregarded.
Teachers and principals, too, must have input, and Nitcher’s reporting turned up concerns that individual school staffs were left on the periphery of decision-making.
All of this — parents complaining that they sought answers for weeks and months, board members worried that teachers won’t buy in, administrators saying their school’s pathways were chosen for them — points to a larger concern about OPS transparency and district leadership’s willingness to weigh input.
So we hope Logan meant it truly would be a two-way street when she told Nitcher, “I think we can’t discount what our parents are telling us. We need to listen, we need to understand and also ask to be listened to and to be understood as well, so I think that is how we have to move forward.”
The upcoming information meetings must be more than just a box to check in the march toward what Logan has already decided must be done.
The superintendent and the district have work to do to win parents’ confidence that high school academies and pathways are the right choice for their children. We look forward to watching that happen.
Parents, along with teachers and building administrators, must be truly heard.