As we approach the 60th anniversary next month of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, the principle of equity in public education is on life support.
Our country has moved from a unanimous high court ruling that segregation is unconstitutional to a new segregation that is pervasive in schools throughout New Jersey. Several reports have detailed the segregated nature of our state’s public schools, despite New Jersey’s constitutional clause that preceded Brown, making segregation in public education illegal.
Much of the focus has been on our state’s urban schools, and understandably so. The history of inequitable school funding and the pervasiveness of poverty in our cities has been a toxic mix, denying generations of mostly black, and now increasingly Latino, children of the "thorough and efficient" education mandated by our state constitution.
What has received less attention is the segregated nature of suburban school districts, often integrated in outward appearance but racially stratified in the school building on the basis of class assignment.