As many Newark public schools become more diverse, Black residents still see their public schools as segregated, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll released on Thursday.
A majority of Black residents (60%) say that the students in the public schools where they live have mostly Black students, but 51% of Hispanic residents view their neighborhood schools as diverse.
More than half of Black residents (55%) said they would rather schools have greater ethnic and racial diversity.
That comes even as most Newark residents (62%) say part of Newark they call home has a “good mix” of different racial and ethnic groups. More than one-third of Black resents (36%) say public schools are segregated by race and ethnicity, while 54% say it’s mixed. That number is at 16%-75% among Hispanics and 39%-52% among whites.
Most Portuguese residents of Newark identified as White in the poll.
“Even though Newark is very diverse on the whole, that diversity isn’t evenly distributed,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the director of the poll. “Black residents continue to attend relatively segregated schools, even as the schools in other areas become more diverse.”
For Newark residents, school funding remains an issue of concern. Most residents (56%) said they would schools be well-funded, while 20% said their top choice are teachers of the same race or ethnicity as students and 16% priorities racial integration. The question suggested that “ideally schools would have all of the characteristics we want. But if you had to choose just one…”
Black residents favor well-funded schools over racially integrated ones by a 60%-15% margin, while 20% want teachers to match up to the students. For Hispanics, it’s 48%-17%, with 24% seeking teachers that share the same race and ethnicity as students. For Whites, it’s 67%-18%-10%.
“Newark residents are telling us that they care more about funding schools than they do about the racial make-up of those schools, on either the student or faculty side,” said Cassino. “But the people who have been in those schools most recently are much more worried about having teachers that look like their students.”
Newarkers have a generally positive view of charters schools, with 48% of residents saying they have been good for Newark students and 13% says they have been bad. Another 20% don’t think they’ve impacted the city either way.
Among Blacks, charter school approval is at 49%-13%. It’s at 44%-12% among Hispanics and 51%-13% among Whites.
“Charter schools are a huge source of controversy in most of the country,” said Cassino. “But in Newark, they’ve been embraced by both parties, and that approval has filtered down to the public.”
The FDU poll was conducted between July 9 and August 11. It has a sample size of 1,100 Newark residents and a margin of error of +/- 3%. It was conducted in three languages.