Members of the Plainfield blogosphere don’t go after each other every day – it’s more like every few weeks, and it’s usually Dan Damon.
It was brought to my attention that it has happened once again – this time Harold “Old Doc” Yood coming at me for my brief write-up about a Rutgers report (see here) on segregated schools in New Jersey.
Old Doc didn’t simply give his own perspective concerning schools and integration. He didn’t write a take that contradicted the study, and my introduction of said report. Instead, he employed the tacky maneuver of quoting me before adding his response – not becoming of a solid writer.
Nonetheless, I decided to respond to his words.
Apparently, when I said that many of Plainfield’s schools would register as “apartheid” according to this study, Old Doc took that to mean that there was an internal segregation in Plainfield. He went on to tell us that in this city there is no white minority “segregating blacks and Latinos from European whites.” Does he think I didn’t know that? Apparently so, since he went on to give a brief lesson in Plainfield demographics, only demonstrating that he has no clue what the study is trying to say.
That was never my claim, nor was it the claim of the report – a study with which I clearly stated I did not totally agree. This report said that as a state New Jersey operates racially segregated schools, many of which have – much more importantly to me – very high concentrations of poverty. This is a macro state problem in New Jersey, not an internal problem of Plainfield’s, and there are a myriad of reasons why this problem is worse in New Jersey than in just about all other states, even states with far greater shares of Blacks and Latinos. I never said, nor implied that there was some sort of racist conspiracy afoot in Plainfield. It seems Old Doc has drawn his own false conclusions about my political beliefs.
Ironically, it appears to be Dr. Yood himself who believes in such a racist conspiracy. Citing the slight 51-48 Latino majority in Plainfield Schools and its 100% Black Board of Education, Dr. Yood concludes that “any local school Jim Crowism is being initiated by the still Black majority in the community.”
So is Jim Crowism of any sort being perpetuated internally in Plainfield Schools? I think not, but I’d love to hear his ideas on how this is happening. Only this time I hope he writes his own piece instead of copy and pasting and then replying to mine.
Old Doc next found it necessary to point out that while 26% of Black students in NJ are in “apartheid” schools, the other three fourths are not in segregated schools. Not true. Based on the numbers, not being apartheid (extremely segregated) does not mean lack of segregation. Intensely segregated schools have greater than 90% minority populations, and significantly more than 26% of Black students attend such schools.
Reading the study, for which my piece was only a brief introduction, would help avoid such mistakes. Dr. Yood clearly chose to write about something that he didn’t bother to spend fifteen minutes to read.
“What is not addressed and probably is not solvable by any legislation is New Jersey’s system of community based school districts,” said Old Doc. Had Dr. Yood read the report before writing about it, he’d know that it was addressed. One of these researchers’ conclusions had to do with regional schools, the political impossibility that Dr. Yood went on to cite.
I will reiterate what I said originally – that I think this report focuses too much on race and not enough on the high concentrations of poverty, particularly as we relate this to Plainfield. The goal of the Plainfield Public Schools should be to improve instruction, which would also result in people of all races who can afford to send their children elsewhere keeping them in our schools. The schools would still read as highly segregated (however, most would no longer be apartheid) according to this somewhat flawed study, but with better instruction they would be high quality schools with less concentrated poverty. That is all a local board of education can do.
That being said, as a country and state, we do have to see what having schools that are so segregated along racial lines says about opportunity, race, class, and how we live. It is significant.