Sunday, May 22, 2016

Jersey Jazzman: Charter School Realities: Morris, NJ

Jersey Jazzman: Charter School Realities: Morris, NJ:

Charter School Realities: Morris, NJ

I was fortunate to participate in a great academic conference at Rutgers this week: Education Reform, Communities and Social Justice: Exploring the Intersections. I'll try to get to some of my impressions later, but for now I want to thank Julia Sass Rubin for inviting me and congratulate her and her staff on doing such a wonderful job (looking forward to next year!).

One of the presenters was Paul Tractenberg of the Rutgers School of Law - Newark. Paul was a key player in the landmark Abbott v. Burke cases, which led to New Jersey's overhaul of its school financing system (sadly, the state has recently retreated from its commitment to funding equity). 

Paul Tractenberg, Rutgers Conference on Education Reform, 5/20/16
photo courtesy of Sarah Tepper Blaine

Paul's presentation was about the Morris, NJ school district, a textbook case of what happens when the courts order school desegregation. Paul wrote about Morris back in 2013:
If we could get beyond our fetishistic attachment to home rule, there are many ways to consolidate districts, either on an individual or statewide basis. Examples of both abound. The Morris School District was created in 1973 out of the adjacent Morristown and Morris Township districts, one increasingly black and lower-income, the other overwhelmingly white and middle to upper income. It was created primarily for racial balance and allied educational reasons. 
Despite initial start-up issues, 40 years later the Morris School District is an amazing success story. It may be the most racially and socioeconomically balanced district in the state, it sends 93 percent of its students on to higher education, and it is widely considered to have been primarily responsible for Morristown’s ability to flower as the state’s leading county seat.
Yet few New Jerseyans are even aware of the existence of the Morris School
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