Call it a racism tax: NJ pays a premium to keep schools segregated
The Education Law Center’s David Sciarra
What’s crazier? Maintaining a patently inefficient system of public education that has more school districts per capita than probably any other state? Or, believing that the white citizens of New Jersey will get over their fear of black and brown children long enough to end racial segregation that is so bad it has been depicted by experts as a form of “apartheid”—the formal separation of races that was the law in South Africa before the era of Nelson Mandela’s leadership.
Tough questions, tough because the answers do, in fact, suggest a relentless nuttiness in the minds of many in New Jersey—those who would be willing to keep paying for what one state legislator called “the costliest school system on the planet” just so they wouldn’t have to live in a racially mixed community or send their children to a racially mixed school.
Call it a racism tax—everyone in New Jersey pays more than they have to pay for public education so some can live in a shrinking lily-white world.
This crazy talk—six hours of it—was the main agenda item at a little-heralded conference this week on the manicured Hopewell campus of the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The meeting was co-sponsored by the ETS—best known for its production of the SAT college-admissions exam—and by the Educational Law Center (ELC), a public interest law firm in Newark that has generated challenges to school funding and other laws
Unlike most conferences on education, the speakers at this one—educators, jurists, politicians, statisticians, experts in various fields, activists—didn’t shy away from bold statements. It was state Sen. Robert Smith (D-Middlesex), for example, who called the state’s public school system “the costliest… on the planet.”
Smith, not usually known for dramatic rhetoric, also promised that the people of the state faced “radical changes” in the years ahead—some he himself would try to generate by pushing for votes o establish county-wide school systems, others that were the inevitable results of past court decisions demanding that predominantly white and wealthy suburbs increase the availability of low-income housing. Which Call it a racism tax: NJ pays a premium to keep schools segregated |: