Racial Segregation In A Northern State. A Challenge To My Governor Christie

By Tommy DeSeno, Originally published on ricochet

I’m a bit moved today that an issue I’ve been hammering away at by my lonesome for a decade is finally getting some attention.

New Jersey is racially segregated.   Some of it is naturally occurring or of personal economic genesis. The birth of that kind of segregation requires no immoral act by mankind, though whether something should or can be done about it I leave for another debate.

Some of New Jersey’s racial segregation is state sponsored.  State sponsored racial segregation shouldn’t be, from both moral and economic perspectives. Something must be done about it.

New Jersey has the highest incomes in America, but Camden is the poorest city in America. The only way to have the highest incomes and the poorest city is to have a segregated poor.   Some of that segregation might have to do with the way public housing is built.   That might be a real issue, but that is not my issue today.

My issue is education, where state sponsored segregation is a certainty in New Jersey.   Brown v Board of Education may as well never have happened as far as the racially segregated City of Asbury Park is concerned. That is ironic since Asbury Park has a school named in honor of Thurgood Marshall, who was lead counsel on Brown v Board of Education.  Thurgood Marshall and its sister schools in Asbury Park, the High School in particular, are some of the most racially segregated schools in the country.

Let’s talk about how that happened.  Asbury Park is home to some of the poorest people in New Jersey, and while it is racially diverse, it is majority Black.  It’s only a little bigger than a square mile.  It is surrounded by other small towns, some of which rank as the wealthiest in New Jersey.  They are super-majority White. They are all tiny towns, too small to have their own High Schools. So for about 100 years, children in all the rich surrounding towns attended Asbury Park High School.

Asbury Park High ran well as a racially and economically diverse school.

In 1996 state action occurred.  New Jersey’s Commissioner of Education ruled that 15 miles away, another public school in very wealthy and very white Little Silver, NJ had a better music program than Asbury Park. Therefore, anyone who wanted to study music could be bused past their home school in Asbury Park and go to Little Silver, at taxpayer expense.

Suddenly, an unexplained outbreak of the desire to learn the oboe developed among the White students, who were instantly so musically gifted that they all passed the required audition and were accepted into the other public high school’s music program.

Over the past 15 years, they quietly allowed the rich surrounding towns to peel away from the Asbury Park School District to join districts geographically further away.

That took from Asbury Park it’s economic, cultural and racial diversity.  It left Asbury Park with just he lowest income students in the state, who for whatever reason you may wish to ascribe, happen to be Black.  To look at the class pictures in Asbury Park, you would think that in 1996 aliens abducted all the white kids, because they just suddenly disappear.

Some may not have a problem with this, but that’s only because I have yet to tell you about the money side.   If it is activist courts, social engineering and throwing money at poor schools as a magic elixir that stirs your emotions, behold:

New Jersey had a Supreme Court case called Abbott come down.  It stands for this proposition:  Poor school districts must be funded to the same level as the richest districts in the state. 

Thirty-two of the State’s 500+ school districts are identified as poor “Abbott Districts” and they receive billions of dollars in extra money from the State, because the Supreme Court says they have a “right” to everyone else’s money for being poor.

Asbury Park is one of those “Abbott” districts. It is one of the lowest performing school districts in the state.   Its budget?  About $90 million yearly.  It’s High School graduating class?  About 90 students. 

However, if we didn’t bus all those kids past the Asbury Park district and brought them back home where they live, Asbury Park would lose it’s “Abbott Designation” and taxpayers would save about $60 million in Abbott funding yearly.

Such an easy fix!  Now brace yourself for the ugly side of politics to learn why it isn’t done:

Most of the suburban White people will complain to high heaven about the money Asbury Park gets each year.  But ask them if they are willing to send their children back to their geographic home district, and they will say, “On second thought, why don’t you just keep that $60 million.”

The urban Blacks in Asbury Park are just as guilty.  While they may claim to abhor racial segregation, ask them to desegregate their school and their answer is, “And lose $60 million? No way!”

The children are caught in the middle.  They are racially and economically segregated by state action, and they know it.

Since no one’s hands are clean here, there is no reason to waste time with allegations that this happened because the White towns acted racially or the Black school was greedy.  Just fix it for the children, and the taxpayer.

I have been calling on every politician since 1996 to change that awful “music ruling” and bring the White children back to Asbury Park, or close Asbury Park and send the children to the surrounding High Schools, where each school would have to take only 15 students per grade.

I’ve never gained any traction, because no one wants to admit that Abbott funding is “segregation hush money.”

Until today.  I’m delighted that Art Gallagher, who runs New Jersey’s most prolific center-right blog More Monmouth Musings, has taken up the cause.

Art notes today that David Sciarra, Director of the Education Law Center who was responsible for bringing those Abbott cases, gave a speech yesterday lamenting the racial segregation he suddenly sees throughout New Jersey schools.

That is huge news.  I don’t care if Mr. Sciarra sees racial segregation as his organization’s fault or not.  I’m just glad he sees it.  He, of course, is on the left.  Mr. Gallagher is on the right.  For the first time in 30 years, New Jersey’s left and right identified the same problem with education: Segregation.

Art Gallagher has gained enough gravitas through his blog that he has been granted one-on-one interviews with Governor Christie himself.

I hope Art and Mr. Sciarra can get the Governor’s attention to tackle racial segregation in New Jersey schools.

Posted: May 19th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education, Race, Tommy DeSeno | Tags: , , , , | 12 Comments »

Red Bank Regional Students Excel In Applied Technology

RBR Students Win the Air Force Association’s CyberPatriot III National Championship

Photo credit, Red Bank Regional High School

Photo credit, Red Bank Regional High School




Little Silver A team of six students from Red Bank Regional High School’s Academy of Information Technology out-performed 11 other teams from across the nation to win first place April 2nd in the nation’s largest and most prestigious high school cyber defense competition.

The CyberPatriot III National Championship is co-sponsored by government, non-profit and commercial sources under the direction of the non-profit Air Force Association (AFA), whose mission is to promote an understanding of cyber defense and its importance to our national security.

            The RBR team was the only team from the entire Northeast region of the United States to have qualified to the championship finals, which were held in Washington, D.C. during a two-day program.  The winning RBR team—nicknamed Team Mantrap, after an industrial term in cyber security lingo—includes Chris Barry of Bradley Beach; Jared Katzman of Little Silver; Adam Cotenoff, Josh Eddy, Jack Kelleher, and Colin Mahns of Shrewsbury. As finalists in the competition, Team Mantrap had already beat approximately 174 other teams from across the country.

            In addition to bringing home The President’s Trophy, each of the winning students received a $2000 college scholarship from Northrop Grumman, the main sponsor of the final competition. Five of the team members will graduate high school in June, and all intend to pursue careers in cyber security. As their RBR teacher and advisor Mandy Galante says, the CyberPatriot Championship opened many new doors to these students.

 “It means scholarship monies, eligibility for Honors Scholar status at their universities, prospects for job internships, and most of all, networking with industry leaders. It means a future for my students where their talents will be recognized and nurtured so that they can join the ranks of cyber leaders of their generation,” says Mrs. Galante.


The first wave of that recognition hit immediately after the competition, when the winners were announced at a celebration banquet attended by corporate executives, defense contractors and government officials, all of whom were vying to speak with members of Team Mantrap. Included among the cyber industry experts was Dr. Vincent Cerf, one of the founders of the Internet, a guest speaker at the program’s symposium—and a quasi-deity to computer wonks around the world.

The RBR students are still ebullient from their victory, but not necessarily surprised that they won. “We worked well as a team, and spent many hours preparing for it,” explains Adam Cotenoff.  “I knew from the way our guys were working and the points that were registered on the board that we were ahead.”

            They nearly drove their advisor out of her mind, when they started packing up their notes ten minutes before the actual end of the competition. “It’s cool,” they said to her, when they saw the panic on her face. “We did fine.”



The competition took place over a five-hour stretch in a large room where each team was ensconced in its own makeshift section. A scoreboard listed each team’s progress as the challenge evolved, but the identity of the teams was kept anonymous, so no one knew which team was actually in the lead. Throughout the competition, most of the teams’ scores tracked closely together, except for the still-anonymous winning team, which maintained a clear distance ahead of the others. Team Mantrap didn’t know it, but it was actually way ahead.

            Adam Cotenoff had discovered the CyberPatriot III Competition early in the school year and asked Mrs. Galante if it might be something they could look into. The elimination process began six months ago with 186 teams registered from around the United States. Applicants included public, private and high technology focused high schools. The three qualifying competitions took place at the teams’ own high schools during all-day weekend sessions. The schools’ computers were tied into the AFA server, which provided software for the competition and real-time scoring, as students successfully identified and eliminated cyber threats against their computers within a specified time-frame. The resulting twelve national finalists were invited to the final event, with all expenses paid by the AFA sponsors.

As Team Captain Jack Kelleher comments, “Originally, Team Mantrap got involved because it sounded really cool and because we would always rather do hands-on applications of the stuff we learn in textbooks. As time went on we got better and better, we started to think, ‘Hey we could win this thing!’ Just like a sports team, we reviewed our last game to find areas for improvement. We documented game plans, and we did drills over and over again.”

            The students had also recently been interviewed by German Public Radio while they competed in another competition. The German radio reporter was interested in showcasing the school’s program since cyber security has become a national priority for all industrialized nations.

            In addition to her students’ hard work and preparation, Mrs. Galante believes Team Mantrap had beneficial advantages. RBR offers a very unique computer curriculum that is not available in many other schools. Students take specific courses which lead to certification in computer networking and computer security. The latter is directly applicable to the CyberPatriot III competition. They also had the guidance and mentorship of Herb Kelsey, an RBR parent who, at one point in his career, was the head of cyber security for IBM.

            Mr. Kelsey  commented, “Five years ago the government set out to see how they could get our young people involved in an industry that was rapidly becoming a national security priority. This competition is an outgrowth of that concern.”

Mrs. Galante agreed that there was a deeper meaning to the CyberPatriot event.

She explains, “At one point during the symposium, I heard General Lord, CIO US Air Force, speak about identifying the young people who will hold the tip of the spear in cyber defense for our nation. These students are not just geeks, with left-brains perfectly developed to speak code and manipulate bits. These young men and women are the ones who when they see a challenge, they will rise to meet it. When presented with a problem, they will strive to solve it. And when they hear a call to duty, they will answer it. These are the young men and women who will hold that cyber spear to keep our systems resilient, reliable and robust.”






Posted: April 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Education | Tags: , | Comments Off on Red Bank Regional Students Excel In Applied Technology