A new state classification system for New Jersey public schools will put 75 schools that serve primarily low-income Black and Hispanic students on the school closure chopping block. According to Education Law Center, "Priority Schools" will be "targeted for immediate intervention by the NYDOE, including replacing principals, reassigning teachers and restructuring curriculum." If they don't improve quickly enough, they could be closed or converted into charter schools.
At the same time, the new system will financially reward 112 schools in the wealthiest districts in the state. "Reward Schools" will receive bonus funding, "including federal Title 1 funds that can be shifted from other high poverty schools."
ELC breaks down the student populations statistics to illustrate how the highest-needs students are being disproportionately targeted by this new policy:
- 75 schools are classified as Priority Schools based on low scores on state standardized tests; 97% of the students attending these schools are Black and Latino, 81% are poor, and 7% are English language learners.
- 183 schools are classified as Focus Schools based on low graduation rates or large gaps on state tests; 72% of the students in these schools are black and Hispanic, 63% are poor, and 10% are English language learners.
- 112 schools are classified as Reward Schools based on high achievement or high levels of growth on state tests; 20% of the students in these schools are black and Hispanic, 15% are poor, and 2% are English language learners.
David Sciarra, ELC Executive Director had this to say about the new system of school classification:
"Under the guise of accountability, the State has singled out public schools serving predominately Black and Latino students in poor neighborhoods for disparate treatment in its most extreme form – closing the schools altogether. Equally alarming is the State's decision to financially reward schools in affluent communities with very few at-risk students and students with special needs.
NJDOE has constructed a perverse system of school punishment and rewards that will do nothing to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for the most at-risk students in our state. The new system is a throwback to the days when State policies worked to reinforce the intense racial and socio-economic segregation in New Jersey's public schools.”