Separated along socioeconomic and racial lines, our schools are hyper-segregated and less diverse than at any other time in the last four decades. Brown v. Board of Education and the NJ constitution ban segregation and require racial balance. NJ has only "paid lip service to the idea of diversity in our schools" (Chief Justice of NJ Supreme Court). Dexter Mullins, writing for Aljazeera, noted that, "Through a combination of willful, blind and benign neglect, nearly all of those [integration] gains have been lost." UCLA reports that 43% of our nation's Latinos and 38% of African-Americans attend "intensely segregated" schools where minorities make up 90 to 100 percent of the student body. 26% of all black students and almost 13% of Latino students in NJ attend apartheid schools (minorities make up 99 to 100 percent of the student body). NJ has the third highest percentage (following Illinois and Michigan) of black students in apartheid schools. Gary Orfield reports that we have double and triple segregation where students are isolated by race, ethnicity, and poverty. In the case of Latinos, it's worse when language is considered.
Richard Rothstein of the Education Policy Institute in Washington, DC notes that we've been following policies of effective segregation. Such laws and practices are much like the "separate but equal" practices of the past. NJ cannot reach its educational goals in racially isolated schools where there are gross inequalities in both educational opportunities and outcomes.
In order for NJ to remain competitive and provide all our students with a "thorough and efficient" education, our elected officials must reverse the extreme segregation of children of poverty in unequal schools. Our NJ constitution demands diversity and our economic future requires equal educational opportunities for all students delivered in a racially and socioeconomically balanced settings.
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