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Wise says integration should be voluntary

6/5/73

North Brunswick school superintendent Arthur Wise claimed yesterday the only way to achieve integrated educational experiences is through a system of voluntary participation. Wise made the contention during hearings on New Brunswick’s petition to forge a regional school district with North Brunswick arid Milltown.

The hearings, being conducted by the state Department of Education, will resume June - 13. The North Brunswick superintendent said that the mandated integration does not work and results in a school system becoming predominantly minority populated.

Under direct questioning from North Brunswick school board attorney Jack Borrus and cross - examination from Terrill Brenner, attorney for the New Brunswick Board of Education, Wise said that a decreasing percentage of North Brunswick parents are sending their children to the city high school.

He testified that presently 66 per cent of North Brunswick junior high school graduates are going to New Brunswick High School, while almost 95 per cent of eligible students from North Brunswick went to the high school when it opened in 1964.

The school administrator claimed this is due to the racial “tipping point factor,” which indicates that once a , school population reaches a 30 per cent minority population, it will become increasingly more minority populated as more whites leave.

Wise also said mandated efforts to reverse the trend and achieve an integrated school experience do not work. The superintendent said he made a study of the Plainfield school system, which was ordered by the state to integrate its schools in 1964.He said that as a result of the order the Plainfield school system is now predominantly black, with a minority population of 77 per cent.

Wise said the same result would occur in a regional system set - up between New Brunswick, North Brunswick and Milltown. Instead of a mandated district, Wise proposed that the three districts maintain separate identities, but agree to share facilities and provide opportunities for integrated education experiences on a voluntary basis.

But he said the shared facilities should not jeopardize the neighborhood school concept. Wise also claimed that the racial make-up of a, school or school district should be no barrier to establishing quality educational program. He said the greatest influence on a school system is the quality of the teachers in the system.

Wise will undergo further questioning Mien the hearings resume next week from Franklin Feld, attorney representing the City of New Brunswick and Milltown Board of Education Attorney Russell Fleming Jr.
 

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