Senate Bill S820 and its identical bill in the Assembly, A1984, propose to establish the Division of Equity and Inclusion in the NJ Department of Education with the mission to identify instances of de facto racial and socioeconomic segregation of school districts and to ensure better integration in public schools.
While S820 has been amended twice in the Senate, A1984 has yet to be placed on the agenda of an Assembly Education Committee meeting. The revisions to S820 include:
● changing the originally suggested name from Division of School Desegregation to Division of Equity and Inclusion;
● strengthening the language of the bill to provide urgency in creating, implementing, and reporting the progress of a statewide strategic plan; and
● appropriating $5 million to this division so it can carry out its mission.
We support S820/A1984 in the form that it has taken in the revised version of S820. School segregation in any form, but particularly racial segregation, is unjust. The legacy of the NAACP’s leadership in bringing forth the U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954 to integrate this nation’s public schools “with all deliberate speed” has proven our commitment to achieving equal educational opportunity. The NJ State Conference has renewed these efforts by signing on to a current lawsuit to desegregate NJ’s public schools.
With this being said, we do have further suggested amendments:
The name change from Division of School Segregation to Division of Equity and Inclusion suggests a larger scope of work. Further treatment is needed to ensure $5 million is enough funding for the staff and resources needed to be effective.
Change the title of the lead person for the division from Director to Assistant Commissioner to be in alignment with the titles of the other NJDOE Divisions.
Call to Action:
The time to integrate our public schools is now! Urge the following assembly members to place A1984 on the Assembly Education Committee agenda so that it can be reported out to the entire Assembly for a vote:
● Assembly Speaker, Craig J. Coughlin
AsmCoughlin@njleg.org, (732) 855-7441
● Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt, Assembly Education Committee Chair
AswLampitt@njleg.org, (856) 435-1247
● Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, A1984 Primary Sponsor
AswJasey@njleg.org, (973) 762-1886
● Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, A1984 Primary Sponsor
AsmMukherji@njleg.org, (201) 626-4000
● Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly, A1984 Primary Sponsor
AsmWimberly@njleg.org, (973) 925-7061