How can NJ be so diverse but have the most segregated schools?

May 9, 2018

New Jersey is known as a melting pot state, a rich tapestry of diversity. But a new report finds Garden state public schools are among the most segregated in the country.

Paul Tractenberg, the president of the Center for Diversity and Equality in Education, says the report finds 1 in 4 students in New Jersey attends a very segregated school. There are roughly 1.4 million students in New Jersey.

“This is the case in mostly the urban districts, where in many cases virtually all the students are either black or Hispanic, and a very high percentage of them are low income,” he said.

“We have a major continuing challenge of enormous proportions.”

Tractenberg pointed out we’re always talking about diversity in the Garden State but the reality is “New Jersey schools have been ranked for years as among the most segregated in the nation.”

“As you get closer and closer to what counts, to neighborhoods and schools and classrooms, we’re really been dreadfully segregated in a lot of particulars. We’re diverse overall and segregated where it counts, in the schools and in the classrooms.”

He notes all children are hurt by segregation.

“White children in important ways learn better when they’re in a diverse setting, when their values and mindset are challenged by people who have different values and mindsets.”

So why are Jersey schools so segregated?

Tractenberg said having 674 school districts in New Jersey means “we’ve divided the state into so many small units that they tend to be homogenous.”

He said while most urban schools are all black and Hispanic “there are many suburbs that don’t have a single low income student.”

He also pointed out we have many school districts that are either quite wealthy or very poor and so it creates a significant imbalance in resources.

To begin to solve the problem he suggested the stat consider “some pretty fundamental and, I understand, politically controversial changes in the way we function.”

The report also finds about 25 percent of New Jersey school districts are diverse and about half of the school districts are racially mixed to different degrees.

The report also finds about 45 percent of the public school student population in New Jersey is white, the black population is slightly higher than 15 percent, while the Hispanic and Asian populations are exploding at 27.5 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

MSNBC Discussion on Education's Problems

April 15, 2011

MSNBC's Ed Schultz hosted a discussion that was billed as race-meets-education. In reality, the debate was all over the place.

That it was so murky — from whether education is a civil right to what will fix America's schools regardless of student race — is evidence of the state of education reform and the debate surrounding it. A panel of Al Sharpton, Russlynn Ali (Department of Education), Randi Weingarten (AFT President) and Derrell Bradford (NJ's E3, Excellent Education for Everyone) discussed "The Black Agenda."

You can watch the video below:

A few important pulls:

Ed Schultz paraphrasing Bill Cosby: "We have a lot of things to do to make things right when it comes to public education in this country, and a good, stable home life is a big foundation."

Russlynn Ali: "[Education] is not a right embedded in the Constitution, as the courts have said to us... that said, it is absolutely, as the President and Arne Duncan have talked about, the most important civil rights issue of our generation."

Derrell Bradford: "Chris Christie made talking about the plight of children, who are not Republicans, and who are largely African-American and Hispanic, a priority in his administration. That was something that... every single person before him failed to do."

Derrell Bradford: "I'm mad that more people aren't mad that these children will never take their place in the main as equals in this society. I can't stand for that, I don't think any human being should wait one more moment, and the spirit of equality that we're really supposed to be here to talk about starts with equal access. Just because you walk into a school doesn't mean you're walking into a place that will give you the kind of education you need to be a productive citizen."

I hope it doesn't go unnoticed how badly outclassed Weingarten, Sharpton and Ali were by Bradford.