The recent New Jersey lawsuit to end school segregation will send superintendents scrambling for solutions if affirmed. If the New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools has its way, schools will have to equalize the percentages of Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics attending their schools. However, even this school segregation lawsuit will not end the disproportionate achievement gap that continues to exist which is the real desired outcome. Schools will have to defend themselves against any perceptions that necessitate school segregation.
The New Jersey Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools segregation lawsuit is supported by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Latino Action Network. The lawsuit alleges that the public-school residency requirement is unconstitutional. It was reported that the plaintiffs have an excellent chance at winning given that the state Supreme Court found even de facto segregation, judged to be unintentional, is considered unconstitutional. Additionally, “The New Jersey Supreme Court has interpreted the constitutional guarantee of a thorough and efficient education to require the State to provide both adequate funding and resources for all schools – including high poverty, racially isolated schools – and remedy racial imbalance in all schools”.
Superintendents from all public schools can expect a backlash from residents, state officials, and the lawsuit supporters. It will become a priority for many schools to provide evidence that the achievement gap is nonexistent. This requirement will impact all schools across the state.
School segregation provides academic, social, and emotional challenges for students. From an academic perspective, White students continue to outperform Black students in Language Arts and mathematics. According to recent NAEP assessments, White students have higher scores than Black students in all assessments. This is important because it determines the earning potential for Blacks. It also determines how many prisons are built in the United States. We find a different trend when it comes to Asian students. Asian students outperform White students in all assessments. They also have a higher earning potential when comparted to Whites. A higher earning potential means that a person can live in a location where schools are well funded and well equipped to help their children earn a higher earning potential.
From a social perspective, since Black and Whites must interact in the United States on some level, the workplace should not be the first place that a White person encounters a Black person. When this happens, Whites have challenges with interacting with Blacks persons and this can result in future lawsuits for unintentional discriminatory practices. It also can make the work environment uncomfortable for Blacks.
For Blacks there are psychological costs to being one of just a few black faces in a predominantly White environment. Black students must carefully manage their emotions in ways that reflected the racial school makeup that they inhabit. They must be very careful to show feelings of warmth and pleasantness, even in response to racial issues. Emotions of anger, frustration, and annoyance are discouraged, even in school settings where these emotions are supposedly welcomed. When school diversity efforts intended to improve the environment for minorities are provided, they in many cases have become a source of emotional stress.
As the lawsuit intended to end school segregation continues, schools will need to take the initial step to evaluate the culture of their school before resorting to any type of knee jerk reaction. The process begins with an evaluation of school discipline. If there is an underrepresentation of Whites or an overrepresentation of any minorities then the school should continue with an evaluation of their culture otherwise civil organizations will continue with their efforts to end school segregation.
The next step is to interview your teacher and students. The interview questions need development from the Ladder of Inference model developed by Peter Senge. Finally, schools that desire to eliminate the need for ending school segregation will need to utilize Peter Senge’s System Thinking organization evaluation model to evaluate the school for any racial tendencies.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
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~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools
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~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
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