LILLEY: Sorry, Guys: It’s Not ‘Reparations’ If the Extra Money Goes to White Teachers

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History has taught me that the New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) duo of Mark “Jersey Jazzman” Weber and Bruce Baker can be relied on for two things: 1) distorting the data; and 2) arriving at the preferred conclusions of NJPP’s generous patron, the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA).

True to form, Weber and Baker’s newest piece of “research” is more of the same.

1) Weber and Baker claim that school districts with Black and Latino majorities are being underfunded and that New Jersey must spend more money in order to raise academic achievement to acceptable levels.   Using their own model, Weber and Baker come up with a level of spending that would supposedly allow these students to reach the appropriate level (even though copious research shows that more spending does not make for higher achievement).  This additional spending would constitute “reparations” to make up for systemic racism.

Below is a table where NJPP’s numbers for current per pupil spending are in the first column.  The second column shows what these districts actually spend per pupil according to the state’s Taxpayer Guide to Education Spending (TGES) – provided by the invaluable State Aid Guy.

District NJPP Spending TGES Total Spending Difference
Winslow Twp.  $20,457  $26,581  $6,124
Hillside  $18,775  $21,559  $2,784
Fairfield Twp.  $17,431  $23,465  $6,034
Roselle Boro  $19,667  $20,517  $850
Willingboro  $22,384  $25,886  $3,502
Burlington City  $21,583  $32,647  $11,064
Orange  $17,817  $24,379  $6,562
Paulsboro  $18,758  $21,907  $3,149
Asbury Park  $30,618  $43,662  $13,044
Lawnside  $23,759  $22,913  $(846)
Irvington  $17,348  $24,503  $7,155
East Orange  $22,977  $28,245  $5,268
AVERAGE  $20,965  $26,355  $5,391

As seen above, the average NJPP spending level is $20,965, but note how much higher the actual TGES number is at $26,355.  That’s a difference of $5,391 per pupil.  Also note that the state per pupil spending average is $22,816, which is conveniently higher than NJPP’s low-ball number but substantially lower than what is actually spent according to TGES.  Looks like Weber and Baker are once again distorting the data to help make the case for more education spending, figuring that no one would bother to check.  

And as State Aid Guy points out, state municipal aid to most of these towns decreased from 2007 to 2017, but that is of no concern to Weber and Baker.  After all, there is no NJEA at the municipal level.

2) Weber and Baker’s proposed solution is … as always … MORE STATE EDUCATION SPENDING.   How much more spending? According to NJEdReport (once again using State Aid Guy’s calculations), $4.1 billion.  As 50Can President Derrell Bradford observes, this money would go to schools – and their largely NJEA-member staff – not to Black and Latino families.  That’s a curious route for reparations to take.  So who would really benefit?  You guessed it: the NJEA.

Some things never change: Weber and Baker once again distort the data to reach the preferred conclusion of NJPP’s patron, the NJEA.  For the 10th time, and counting …

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