Friday, February 14, 2014


The other day David M Rutherford posted on his blog “Plainfield View” a blog titled “Hyper-segregation in New Jersey, and Plainfield, schools”.

I cannot find fault with the statistics he quotes; but numbers can be made to accommodate the author’s wishes. Therefore, I find his conclusions or the ones he is quoting to be erroneous.

Excerpted from his blog with my comments in blue:
“New Jersey has a long history of setting progressive laws concerning racial balance in its schools, even going further than the federal government whose legislation banned forced segregation but, in general, did not foster integration. These efforts in New Jersey, however, have been utterly fruitless in the last forty years.”

Plainfield was one of the first communities in the USA to have mandated school ethnic equality in the late 50s-early 60s. Unfortunately that led to the first wave of “white” exodus not entirely because of the presence of black students but the destruction of the neighborhood school system.

“According to a study prepared by the Rutgers-Newark Institution of Education Law and Policy and the Civil Rights Project at UCLA), black students in our state are two times as likely to attend apartheid schools that those in the South.
An apartheid school is defined in this study as having 1% or less white students, which is comparable to segregation in the Jim Crow South or apartheid South Africa. The situation in our state is enough to have Professor Gary Ottfield of the Civil Rights Project at UCLA characterize the schools in New Jersey, a state that is 68 percent white, as hyper-segregated.”

Apartheid is defined as: “any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.” In view of Plainfield’s ethnic population according to the 2010 census; 50.2% African-American,-23.54% White which includes of any national origin be it European or Latino, and more significantly 40% of the population are of Latino origin of all races; if apartheid is being practice in the school system it is not because a “white minority” is segregating blacks and Latinos from European whites.

Instead any local school Jim Crowism is being initiated by the still Black majority in the community. What is not taken into account is that of the school population 50.2 % are Latino and a substantial black minority of 48.4%. That means that only 1.4% of the students are of other races such as Caucasian, Native Americans or of Asian descent.

The Board of Education is 100% African /American; there is no representation of the majority Latinos on the Board; and I can find only one name in administration that is of Latino connotation.

“An alarming 26% of black students in NJ are in apartheid schools. For Latinos, New Jersey is only slightly better – fifth most apartheid in the nation. Four of every five black or Latino students attend a majority minority school.”

This may be a very true statement. What is not taken into account is that the majority of the Black and Latino population live in urban environments where combined they are by far the majority of the population. The other nearly 3/4th of the “minority” students are in non-segregated schools according to statistics.

For our benefit;; according to the 2010 census the NJ population is 68.6% “white” which includes many Latinos, and 13.7% Black. By subtraction that means that there is 17.7% of the population of other racial ethnic origin. Interestingly 17.7% (a coincident) of the population also reported themselves as Latino.

What is not addressed and probably is not solvable by any legislation is New Jersey’s system of community based school districts. No legislature or group of politicians would ever pass laws abolishing local districts and creating regional or even a statewide school system with mandatory racial and/or economic equality representation in all classes.

The only solution could be if communities like Plainfield gave up control of its own schools to a State agency that free of local politics  would strictly monitor the quality of education, staffing, the usage of adequate funding including the return of for a lack of a better term, the humanities programs into the education system.
We do not need constant inflammatory rhetoric about the “New Jim Crowism” without reflecting on our own relationships with other ethnic, racial, and religious individuals. Instead let us forget our  egos and look for an impartial solution to the education problem.


  1. Thank you Doc for a very reasonable response. My view of the thrust of the original article was to paint a white segregationist conspiracy. People choose to live where they feel comfortable and can afford it. If things line up racially and economically so be it. I can't cover the housing prices of Summit but I don't expect social engineering to do it for me.

  2. Education Commissioner Cerf has just announced his resignation. The State has never been held accountable for the controls and limitations they place on the educational options available in Abbott Districts.

    Link to Star Ledger Commentary

    Link to the Rutgers Report

  3. Anyone can spin numbers to support the story they want to sell.

    The Fed and US government points to numbers saying the economy is improving (more jobs, less unemployed) -- yet in the trenches we all know people who went from full-time, reasonably-paying jobs to part-time jobs, barely scraping by. Yet, by golly, they are employed.

    It is true there are schools where blacks are the dominant population, and statistically this population is not performing well. Is it some evil scheme? Of course not.

    If you look at it, it's poverty and lifestyle that is causing it.

    As you get more and more students from families who don't value education, where kids don't have the parents involved at home and school -- those kids create a hostile environment in the school where learning is not valued.

    I know one parent whose child was doing well, but when he went into middle school, the peer pressure NOT to do well in school was such, he started failing. The parent took him out of Plainfield and put him in a private school, where he has friends of all races, but where education is valued, and he's doing great academically.

    Parents who care about their kids, monitor them, make sure they do their homework and behave -- can we blame them if they don't want them in schools where the social culture is not in line?

    It's the same with neighborhoods. If I care for my home, have pride in my community -- do I want to live where trash is in the streets, drug dealers on the corners, and run-down homes, with loud, blaring music? Of course not.

    Just because you are from a poor family does not mean you are "bad" and you can't get a good education. My mother and her siblings grew up very poor (no running water), yet they all got college educations. It's about what is important.

    Each of us is responsible for our own outcomes. The same with communities. Government can only do so much. If a community isn't happy with what is going on, then the community needs to decide what is wrong, and take action for change. That is the point of locally elected officials. They are supposed to know the community, what the community needs.

    I tire of people pointing fingers that someone else is holding them back.

    EVERYONE faces prejudice. If you are female, old, short, tall, male, white, black, latino, disabled, ugly, pretty -- we all are affected by opinions and pre-conceived judgments of others.

    I've not gotten opera singing jobs because I was disabled and considered too short. Horrors! God forbid a lead love interest has a limp and is short. Prejudice? Of course. Look in our entertainment industry and you'll see rampant prejudice to the handsome/pretty.

    I think failing school systems need to look at the base cause of why students are failing -- what is going on at home? How do you reward and encourage a culture in school that is about learning and intellectual curiosity?

    How do you reach out to kids, get them to understand that in our future world education is the way out of poverty, the way to realize dreams?

    That's what the discussion should be about.

  4. Deborah, I believe that the last two paragraphs of the blog address a solution to the problem. It is true that the state has failed to provide EQUAL education in the districts that they have seized control. Perhaps what they are offering is better than that which existed, but still fails to attempt to reach that goal.

    Logistically there is no way that all the school districts could have equality in ethnic/racial/economic mixture. Therefore we must find a solution so that the child in Newark or Plainfield can have the same level of programs as the child in one of the affluent committed school districts. That will be the solution not forced intergration.

  5. the State doles out money to the "Formerly Known As Abbott Districts" with little to no regard to how they use it or any accountability... Unfortunately the districts receiving it treat it like most people do to free things.. they shit on it.. The human race treats free with little respect and doesn't mind abusing it because it's free. If the state cut the purse strings and the communities receiving that cash had to come up with it I assure you the education system would do a 180 .. but Liberal guilt would never allow it.

  6. Olive - to you I say AMEN. You want Plainfield parents to show up at council and BOE meetings, tell them you are cancelling a recreation program.

    School Scores come out and Plainfield ranks 532 out of 566 schools- not a care or voice to be heard.