A Plan for Ending School Segregation in New Jersey

 “Racial segregation must be seen for what it is, and that is an evil system, a new form of slavery covered up with certain niceties of complexity.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.


  • A school integration plan must involve everyone. All districts bear some responsibility. All have a role to play.
  • It must be implemented statewide and must engage entire regions if it is to shut off all doors to “flight”. Small scale pilot projects will not work.
  • It must set meaningful, achievable, and fair goals for inclusion and integration. The state’s aim should be to support, incentivize and push all districts, schools, faculty, and classrooms to better reflect the diversity of their regions and the state.
  • Goals must be based on “Opportunity” as well as race.[1]

9 Point Legislative Plan for Eradicating School Segregation in New Jersey

1.      We must conduct an Opportunity Analysis. A desegregation plan and its goals must be based on a thorough analysis of racial as well as economic and social factors that define “opportunity”.

2.      We must reform and strengthen the Department of Education’s civil rights capacity and enforcement so it can develop a desegregation plan and has the power needed to advance and enforce it.

3.      We must expand and strengthen the state school funding formula to advantage and incentivize diverse and integrated schools.

4.      We must direct and increase state school funding to suppprt and incentivize local integration and desegregation best practices where diversity already exists.

5.      We must reform the Interdistrict Public School Choice program to become a mandatory tool to advance integration within regions based on an opportunity analysis.

6.      We must require charter schools to advance integration and meet regional inclusion goals.

7.      We must create and support pro-integration magnet schools in urban areas and require county schools to meet regional integration goals

8.      We must end secessions; ban the termination of regional send-receive arrangements and the dissolution of unified districts. We must amend the school consolidation bill to prohibit secessions while requiring an affirmative obligation to create integrated districts.

9.  We must strengthen the Fair Housing Act to Increase Mount Laurel obligations on “far flung” wealthy communities with exclusionary schools.



a)  Avoid Short-Term Quick-Fixes, especially ones that trade costly expenditures in place of true inclusion; because “sperate is never equal”     

b)     Don't Blame the Victim. NJ’s high poverty, racially isolated districts did not create segregation. Their students did not choose it. They should not bear the burden of fixing it or paying for it.

c)      Not all suburban and urban districts are the same; consider the relative diversity and fiscal capacity of all districts.

d)     Do No Harm - The best intentions often bring unintended harmful consequences, including some well-meaning proposals: 

County consolidation in most counties in NJ will not capture a diverse enough area to stop white flight. 

Simply removing district boundaries would only accelerate flight and deepen segregation.

e)     Magnet and vocational schools should not be allowed to create new layers of exclusivity and exclusion. They must all meet meaningful goals for reflecting the economic and racial mix of their region.

[1] Opportunity is defined by social and economic factors such as income, wealth, quality schools, jobs and tax base.