Publication Date: April 3, 2020
Many American schools continue to struggle with segregation. This important book tells the story of how two school districts—one a predominantly White and wealthy suburban community and the other a more diverse and urbanized community—were merged into a single district to work toward a solution for school segregation. The authors focus on the Morris School District in New Jersey as an exemplar to demonstrate what is possible and how it can be accomplished. They document what makes a district like Morris successful and include lessons learned in each chapter. Along with analyzing the legal and educational policy implications of the nearly 50-year history of the merged district, the authors take a mixed methods approach to deepen our knowledge of effective leadership, community–school relations, and classroom practices in the context of a community committed to genuine integration.
Paul Tractenberg is professor emeritus at Rutgers Law School in Newark. Allison Roda and Ryan Coughlan are both assistant professors of education in Molloy College’s Educational Leadership for Diverse Learning Communities Ed.D. program. Deirdre Dougherty is assistant professor of educational studies at Knox College.
1. Introducing the Morris Story
A Note About Terminology
The Morris School District in New Jersey as an Important Case Study
The Merger Process and Its Aftermath
The Morris School District of Today—Almost 50 Years After Merger
MSD’s Current Level of Integration as Compared to the State and National Picture
Why a Book about the Morris School District?
Overview of the Book
2. Using Law and Litigation to Advance School Integration
Why Litigate to Achieve School Desegregation and Integration?
The Jenkins Decision
The Impact of the Jenkins Decision
3. The Role of School Leadership
The Link Between Mackey Pendergrast and Steve Wiley
Culturally Responsive School Leadership
The Postmerger Period
Maintaining a Delicate Balance of Diversity: “I had to walk a fine line with how we promoted the district.”
Successes and Challenges of School Diversity
4. The Black Student Experience in MSD
Changing Demographics and the Substantial Loss of Black Students Over Time
Black Parents Who Leave
Black Parents Who Stay: “We’ve got to work harder” to advocate for our children
The District’s Response Then: “Good Intentions” but “It never felt like priority #1”
The District’s Response Now: Equity and Inclusion
5. The Latinx Student Experience in MSD
The Federal/State/Local Policy Landscape of Bilingual Education
Emergent Bilingual Students in MSD
Teachers and Support Staff
Conclusion: Moving from Desegregation to True Integration
What Have We Learned in MSD?
How Does MSD Apply What Was Learned?
How Can Other School Districts Apply the Lessons Learned from MSD?
Statutory and Constitutional Authority for Students to Cross Existing District Lines
Appendix A: Statutory Provisions That Enable Students to Receive Education in Districts Other Than Their Districts of Residence
Appendix B: An Action Plan to Diversify New Jersey’s Schools
About the Authors