May 17, 2018
Building on Brown v. Board of Education
Senior Fellow, Brennan Center for Justice and Distinguished Visitor from Practice, Georgetown University Law Center
Brown v. Board of Education is back in the news. That’s not a reference to two of Trump’s judicial nominees who recently refused to comment on whether the US Supreme Court correctly decided the school desegregation case.
There is another outrageous development.
Decades after the landmark decision, hundreds of thousands of New Jersey children are attending schools doubly segregated by race and poverty. The Garden State is among the most racially divided in the country. Four out of five black and Latino students in the state are taught in segregated classrooms.
Why does this matter?
Third-graders who attend integrated schools achieve higher proficiency rates on standardized tests than children in segregated schools. And New Jersey’s segregated schools raises serious legal questions, potentially violating provisions of the state Constitution that ensure students receive a, "thorough and efficient" education and equal protection of the law.
Fortunately, civil rights advocates – including ACS board member Elise Boddie - are standing up for New Jersey’s students. A coalition of community, business, and faith leaders today announced a lawsuit aiming to diversify New Jersey’s public schools.
New Jersey courts have long led the way in civil rights, with landmark decisions that promote residential integration and that ensure fair funding for poor urban schools. And the state’s Constitution is the first to prohibit racial segregation in public schools.
This case is an opportunity to systemically address the scourge of segregation in all public schools. New Jersey has an opportunity to show leadership for the rest of the nation. We hope it chooses to do so: our children depend on it.