Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2017

Journal Title or Book Title

Molloy Magazine






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For Paul Tractenberg—a law professor and long-time legal advocate for educational equity and funding equalization in New Jersey, this was a story that he always wanted to tell. As Paul described it to me, to our co-author Ryan Coughlan, and to the nearly 100 Morristown residents and school staff that we would eventually interview for the Morris project, studying the 1971 Jenkins Case that brought about the merger of two racially distinct Morristown and Morris Township K-8 school systems had been percolating in his mind since the early 70’s. When we began the project three years ago, we did not anticipate how complicated it would be to put the history of the merger into the current context. We also did not anticipate that Morris would provide such hope in the current neoliberal era of school segregation, inequality, and privatization. Morris School District (MSD) is one of the most integrated school districts in New Jersey and this is commendable. The district’s 45- year history is unique because it is the only district in the state and country that was merged by order of the state commissioner of education for the purpose of achieving racial balance. Today, the district has maintained its incredible diversity. Out of 5,226 students, MSD’s 2014–15 demographic profile is 52 percent White students, 11 percent Black, 32 percent Latino, and 5 percent Asian. Approximately 35 percent receive free or reduced-price lunch. Surprisingly, very few people have ever heard of the Morris district, including long-time New Jersey residents and individuals knowledgeable about education in the state.

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