NJ non-profit coalition ramps up pressure in school segregation lawsuit

The coalition of nonprofits that accuses New Jersey of having some of the most segregated public schools in the country rallied in Trenton on Thursday, urging the state to integrate its counties and not wait for a judge in a pending case decides.

“How long is New Jersey going to deny justice to black and Hispanic children, how long?” Rev. Charles Boyer, founder of Salvation and Social Justice, told a crowd of about two dozen people. “How long will our children have to suffer from poor education and how long will the educators in our schools have to work with scrap and leftovers to do their best in the most difficult situations?”

A group of nonprofits, led by the Latino Action Network, sued Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration in 2018, alleging that New Jersey allowed the de facto segregation of its education system – in violation of the state’s constitution – by allowing the Students required to attend schools in their neighborhoods could afford to live in them.

The lawsuit related to a UCLA study that found that nearly half of black and Hispanic students in New Jersey attended public schools in 2016 that were 90% non-white, making it the seventh-largest segregation for Latino students.

The attorney general’s office defended the case in court, arguing earlier this month that the plaintiffs had failed to define what constitutes a segregated school, adding that the education system must be “rebuilt brick by brick” if the court orders action.

But on Thursday, advocates said too many generations of students have been harmed by segregated schools.

Lawrence Hamm, chair of the People’s Organization for Progress, said segregated schools “weren’t the same in 1954 and they’re not the same in 2022.”

“If we fail to give students the resources to speak and interact with other people who have different stories, who have different interests and different perspectives, when we close the door, we are only fostering a non-inclusive society .” said Sanchez.

Mercer County Superior Court Judge Robert Lougy is now weighing whether the state should be held accountable for the racial composition of its schools. It is unclear when he will make his decision.

One of the most diverse states in the country, New Jersey has more than 600 school districts serving 1.5 million students. NJ non-profit coalition ramps up pressure in school segregation lawsuit

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