A new report takes aim at New Jersey’s public schools, describing the segregation of black and Latino students into certain schools as an “apartheid” system.
The Institute on Education Law and Policy at Rutgers University released the report making that characterization, along with another report issued by the Civil Rights Project at UCLA on segregation in New Jersey schools.
The Record (NorthJersey.com) reports that the Rutgers report found that 13 percent of Hispanic students attend schools where 1 percent or less of students are white, and that an additional 29 percent of Latinos attend schools where 10 percent or fewer of students are white. Students also experience double segregation because of separation by poverty (and for Hispanics, even triple, when language is involved.)
The study notes that New Jersey became one of the first states to bar racially segregated schooling by race, in 1881, and then barred segregation in public schools in 1947. But that doesn’t mean that residential segregation doesn’t still persist.
Attorney Paul Trachtenberg, who brought many education civil rights cases before the New Jersey Supreme Court, led the Rutgers study and decided to use the controversial terminology.
“I find it extremely depressing that New Jersey has what I believe is the strongest state constitution requiring racial balance in the schools, and we have done pretty much zero with that,” he told the Record.
The report suggests integration strategies such as school district mergers, more magnet schools, diversity goals for charter schools, and allowing students to transfer from one public school system to another.
Trachtenberg was an attorney in the years-long Abbott v. Burke case, which has resulted in allocating more funding to poor districts and preschool programs in poorer districts.
Experts do credit that case for improving funding for poorer districts. But money is not a remedy for segregation.
“On the one hand, New Jersey is at the forefront of equity because of the Abbott case,” Richard Kahlenberg of The Century Foundation told the newspaper. “More than any other state, it has poured enormous resources into high-poverty schools. But there is this huge issue of economic segregation that New Jersey has yet to address.”
The Civil Rights Project points out that not all the news is negative, and that the number of diverse schools is rising.