The Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools which includes GNJ, the NAACP, the Latino Action Network and others, who are plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state to drive out segregation in education formally asked the Superior Court of Mercer County in September to rule based on undisputed facts that the level of school segregation in the state’s schools violates the law.
The coalition of civil rights groups, led by Retired Supreme Court Justice Gary S. Stein who is president of the NJ Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools, has argued that persistent segregation has violated the constitutional rights of hundreds of thousands of New Jersey students.
“A ruling in the Plaintiffs’ favor would eliminate the need for a trial on the issue of liability and would focus the balance of the litigation on the issue of how to undo the high levels of racial segregation and fulfill the New Jersey Constitution’s requirements to maintain non-segregated schools,” said Stein.
They have added that the unbalanced access to a “thorough and efficient education” greatly limits opportunities for Black and Latino students, but the lack of diversity also harms other students because of the homogenous learning and social environments and the ensuing racial stereotyping, stigma, fear and other negative effects.
A Center on Diversity and Equality in Education study recently found almost 25 percent of New Jersey schools are “desperately segregated,” with student enrollment more than 90 percent white or more than 90 percent non-white.
The lawsuit stated that about 66 percent of New Jersey’s African American students and 62 percent of its Latino students attend schools that are more than 75 percent non-white.
While the total of black and Latino students is nearly equal to the white total statewide, most black and Latino students attend schools that are largely nonwhite, the suit says, and a growing number of students attend schools that are 99 percent nonwhite.
Unlike many other states, New Jersey explicitly bans racial segregation in its constitution. That provision is part of the basis of the suit.
For more information on this issue and GNJ’s participation in the lawsuit, visit www.gnjumc.org/segregation-in-new-jersey-schools/