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(NJ) Poorer school districts are less diverse than ever
| HEATHER APPEL
Posted on 10/08/2008 4:42:56 PM PDT by Coleus
While the state has seen demographic shifts in suburban school districts, the isolation and intense concentration of minority students in the 31 Abbott school districts is worse today than it was 20 years ago. That's the basis for a "friend of the court" brief filed jointly by the New Jersey Black Issues Convention and the Hispanic Directors Association, two influential umbrella organizations. They are among nine groups challenging the state's overhaul of the school funding formula that guaranteed additional aid to the state's neediest districts. Locally, Paterson, Passaic and Garfield are classified as Abbott districts.
The court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Monday in the latest round of Abbott v. Burke
litigation. The original class-action lawsuit was filed more than 30 years ago and was aimed at providing oversight and extra funding so low-income schools could spend as much per pupil as those in affluent towns. In January, the Legislature approved a new school funding formula that eliminates Abbott districts.
Instead of continuing to designate districts as needing special help, the state will now provide money determined by the number of poor children in each of the state's school districts. The funding formula is based on each district's "fair share," as determined by the state.
State officials argued that the Abbott districts were no longer necessary since they are no longer teaching the majority of the state's low-income students of color. The state filed a motion in March asking the state Supreme Court to certify that the new formula meets the state's requirement to provide a "thorough and efficient education" to all children in New Jersey.
Attorneys for the Newark-based Education Law Center
, the lead plaintiff in the original Abbott case, say there have been gains in Abbott districts over the past 10 years, and that ending the program now will undo that progress and worsen the segregation in the state's districts, which violates the state constitution. The Law Center plans to argue Monday that the state's funding reform should not be approved by the court.
Over the years, Abbott funding has sparked controversy, with suburban districts arguing that they are overtaxed because they do not receive as much money from the state as Abbott districts do. New Jersey has the second-highest per-pupil spending in the nation, an average of $14,600, but many Abbott districts still have a disproportionate number of schools that don't meet federal standards under the No Child Left Behind Act, in contrast to suburban districts that have been recognized for high college acceptance rates and strong standardized test scores.
Parents and education advocates plan to rally outside the Supreme Court in Trenton before the hearing Monday to call for Abbott districts to remain intact. They argue that the School Funding Reform Act threatens Abbott districts and non-Abbott districts, and that the evidence of inequities in the schools is glaring. "As a group that deals with education and the rights of Latinos and Hispanics, we were concerned that they be guaranteed the education that was promised to them," said Terry Merced, advocacy director for the Hispanic Directors Association. The association in August signed onto an amicus brief submitted in May by the Black Issues Convention that spells out the racial and economic discrepancies between Abbott districts and the rest of the state.
The organizations' leaders agree that there has been an influx of immigrant and minority students in non-Abbott districts, but they argue that the concentration of low-income students of color in Abbott districts has not changed. "The purpose of the amicus is to make sure the Supreme Court understands the real nature of the demographics issue," said Daniel Santo Pietro, director of the Hispanic Directors Association. "The state should be providing assistance in other districts, but there's no comparison to this concentration of Latino students."
While the number of Latino students has risen statewide, the increase in Abbott districts has been dramatic about 125,000 out of 279,000 students in those 31 districts are Latino, according to enrollment data for 2006-07 from the state Department of Education. That's nearly 45 percent, compared with just 12 percent of students who are Latino in the rest of the state's school districts. In 2006-07, 88 percent of the students in Abbott districts were minorities, according to data released by the state. In Paterson, the rate was nearly 95 percent, and in the city of Passaic, more than 98 percent were students of color, according to the state.
The brief submitted by the Black Issues Convention and Hispanic Directors Association argues that the state has not shown that the new funding formula will address the "extreme isolation of minority students in the Abbott districts." "While it is correct that just over half of New Jersey's African-American and Latino schoolchildren attend schools in non-Abbott districts, the complete truth is that the racial shift in New Jersey's demographic landscape has occurred outside of the Abbott districts," the brief emphasizes.
The state responded with its own 48-page legal brief, which states, "The School Funding Reform Act is based on the real educational resource needs of Abbott children, and other children with similar disadvantages, and the cost to provide those educational resources." The state argues that the new funding formula will lessen the burden on suburban municipalities and on non-Abbott districts with large concentrations of students with special needs.
Pietro Santos said the state's solution does not go far enough, and that strengthening the schools is the first step to attracting a diverse workforce back to struggling urban centers. "If our cities are going to have any chance of resurrecting themselves, the ability to create first-class schools clearly will be a major factor in that," Pietro Santos said. That alone can decrease segregation."
TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; US: New Jersey
KEYWORDS: aliens; diversity; education; greatsociety; immigration; innercity; lbj; multiculturalism; schooldistricts; schools; socialengineering; thegreatsociety; urban
why must they lable poor people? And what about the students of no color? don't they get represenation? every poor person deserves the same opportunity.
BTW, what exactly is the primary difference between an Hispanic and a Latino?
Segregation? there is no segregation, they go to where they can live, in towns where there are plenty of tenements and multi-family dwellings with plenty of basements and attics. And they go to where their own kinsmen presently live where there are plenty of clinics, WIC and other subsidies available for them.
posted on 10/08/2008 4:42:56 PM PDT
Comment #2 Removed by Moderator
The funding formula is based on each district's "fair share," as determined by the state.
Get used to this line.
posted on 10/08/2008 4:58:26 PM PDT
(Sarah Palin's very existence is a threat to the Left.)
NJ school system is a joke, there are more board members and administrators than there are students. Thousands of different school districts just in one tiny state.
posted on 10/08/2008 4:59:32 PM PDT
posted on 10/08/2008 5:06:09 PM PDT
(She's not a lesbian, she doesn't whine, she doesn't hate her country, and she's not afraid of guns.)
NJ has been marxist for a long time so we’re used to it already.
posted on 10/09/2008 1:49:30 PM PDT
(Abortion and Physician-assisted Murder (aka-Euthanasia), Don't Democrats just kill ya?)
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