Few would argue that the public school system in Newark, New Jersey, is fine the way it is. Change is clearly needed in the largest public school system in the state. The schools in the town of 277,000 residents regularly rank among the lowest performing in New Jersey. The need for change does not, however, justify a new system if it discriminates against black students.
According to a complaint filed by a parents’ group, 51 percent of Newark public school students are black. The changes outlined to improve the school system, a plan known as “One Newark,” allegedly do not impact those students equally. According to the area branch of Parents Unified for Local School Education, 86 percent of the students directly impacted by One Newark are black. White students make up 8 percent of the Newark public school population, but would only make up 1 percent of those affected by the plan.
One Newark involves some schools being relocated and others being closed. Approximately 25 percent of city schools would be consolidated as of the end of this school year. In addition, several charter schools would open in city-owned facilities. Critics of the plan contend that it targets students based on race. An investigation is currently being conducted by the U.S. Department of Education.
Discrimination in the workplace is a serious problem. Discrimination in schools is arguably worse. When one group is set behind another from the start, the repercussions are massive. If One Newark is found to discriminate against black students, even if it wasn’t designed with that in mind, the plan needs to be rethought. There is a way forward for Newark schools that does not discriminate against students based on race.
Source: Huffington Post, “Newark, N.J., Schools Probed After Claims Of Race Discrimination” by David Jones, 23 July 2014