FDU Poll: Black Newark Residents Want More Diversity in Schools

For Immediate Release

 

 

Contact:                           

Dan Cassino, Executive Director, FDU Poll    

973.896.7072/dcassino@fdu.edu     

 

Black Newark Residents Want More Diversity in Schools

Newark residents say school funding is more important than racial considerations

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ, August 26, 2021 – Controversies about funding, race and charter schools have made the Newark schools system a source of statewide, and sometimes national controversy in recent years, but little attention has been paid to the views of residents. New results from the FDU Poll’s survey of residents of the state’s largest city, conducted in three languages, reveals that Black residents still see their public schools as being segregated, even as other residents attend more diverse schools.

Most Black residents of Newark (60 percent) say that the public schools where they live are mostly black, compared to just 19 percent of white residents, and 23 percent of Hispanics. Half of Hispanics in Newark (51 percent) say that their public schools aren’t dominated by any particular racial or ethnic group, compared to 36 percent of whites, and 29 percent of Black residents. Portuguese and Brazilian respondents were categorized according to whichever racial or ethnic group they affiliated with in addition to being Portuguese or Brazilian, which was mostly “white.”

It’s no surprise, then, that most Black residents (55 percent) say that they would prefer more racial and ethnic diversity in their schools, with only 32 percent saying that things are fine the way that they are. In contrast, just 38 percent of whites and 35 percent of Hispanic residents say they want more diversity in their schools.

“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 Executive Director of the poll. “Black residents continue to attend relatively segregated schools, even as the schools in other areas become more diverse.”

Still, a majority of residents say they don’t consider the neighborhoods where they live to be segregated by race and ethnicity: 62 percent say that their neighborhoods are a good mix of groups, with only 29 percent calling them segregated. Hispanic residents are the least likely to say that their neighborhoods are segregated, with 75 percent saying that their neighborhoods are a good mix, and only 16 percent saying that they see segregation at home.

In addition to racial considerations, funding for Newark schools has been a long-time concern, even with supplemental state funding through the court-mandated Abbott system, which is supposed to ensure equitable funding for schools in poorer areas of the state. In the survey, residents were asked to choose between schools that are well funded, schools that are racially integrated, or schools with teachers who have a similar racial and ethnic background as their students. Forced to pick one, Newark residents overwhelmingly choose well-funded schools (56 percent) over any racial consideration. Given a second choice, most (51 percent) of those who pick “well-funded” as their first choice take racially integrated schools as their second priority. Among those who took either of the race-based options as their first choice, well-funded schools was by far the most common second choice.

While this holds across racial groups, Hispanic residents are the most likely to say that they would privilege having teachers who have the same racial or ethnic make-up as their students. Twenty-four percent say that’s the most important consideration, compared to 10 percent of whites, and 20 percent of Black residents. The same holds true for the youngest Newark residents: 25 percent of those 30 and under say that the most important goal is having teachers who have the same background as their students, compared to just 12 percent of residents 65 and older.

“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.”

Generally, Newark residents have positive views of the charter schools – private schools funded by taxpayer money on a per-student basis – that have come to dominate the city’s education system.  Forty-eight percent of Newark residents say that they have been generally good for Newark students, with only 13 percent saying that they’ve been overall bad. While charter schools have been politically divisive nationally, there are no signs of partisan differences in how Newark residents see them: 47 percent of Democrats (who constitute the majority of residents) say that they’ve been good for students, little different from the 52 percent of Republicans who say the same. Interestingly, the residents who are most likely to have attended charter schools – residents 30 and under – are the least likely to have positive views of them, with only 37 percent saying that they’ve been good for students, much lower than in the other age cohorts. Even among this group, though, the number who approve far outweigh those who say that they’ve been bad (just 15 percent).

“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.”

In the survey, residents were also asked about the ideal racial composition of their neighborhood. A quarter (26 percent) say that they don’t have a preference, and about a quarter (22 percent) say that they’d prefer a neighborhood that’s between a quarter and half Black. Twenty-nine percent say that they’d prefer to live in an area that is majority Black, and 17 percent say that they’d want to live somewhere that’s less than a quarter black.

There are significant racial and ethnic preferences in preferred neighborhood composition. Thirty-nine percent of Black residents would prefer to live in a majority Black neighborhood – compared to just 11 percent of white residents, and 22 percent of Hispanics. Only 12 percent of Black residents say that they would want to live in a neighborhood that’s a quarter or less Black, compared with 29 percent of whites, and 16 percent of Hispanic residents. This is one of the few areas with a pronounced partisan split: 35 percent of the relatively small number of Republicans in Newark say that they would prefer to live in a neighborhood that’s a quarter Black or less, compared to 14 percent of Democrats.

Methodology

The survey was conducted between July 9 and August 11, 2021, using a certified list of residents of Newark, New Jersey. Voters were randomly chosen from the list and contacted in one of two ways. Three-quarters of the respondents (827) received an invitation through SMS (text) to fill out the survey online, via a provided link. The other quarter of respondents (273) were contacted via telephone, using the same registered voter list. The survey covers 1,100 Newark residents, ages 18 and older, and was conducted mostly in English (1039), with the remainder in Spanish (57) and Portuguese (4). The survey was carried out by Braun Research, Inc, of Princeton, New Jersey. Of the interviews, 146 were conducted over landlines, the remainder via cell phones.

The survey included a significant oversample of African-American/Black voters in Newark, which allows for more accurate comparisons between this and other groups, as well as the calculation of subgroup characteristics that would not be possible in a simple probability sample. Such oversamples necessarily require additional weighting in order to calculate population-level values, but the weights used for this are not included in the calculation of design effects, as they do not indicate a divergence between the sample and the population.

The data were weighted to be representative of the registered voter population of New Jersey. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, calculated design effects are approximately 1.25.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 1100 residents of Newark is +/-2.96 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-3.73 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question-wording, differences in translated forms, or context effects.

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

1100 Newark Residents

Figures do not include respondents who declined to answer the demographic item in question

Man   

47%                 N = 526

Woman                            

50%                 N = 548

Some Other Way          

1%                  N = 13

 

18-24                          

14%                 N = 157

25-34                          

21%                 N = 234

35-44                          

18%                 N = 201

45-64                          

29%                 N = 311

65+                              

13%                 N = 146

 

Democrat (with leaners)             

59%                 N = 645

Independent                                 

13%                 N = 142

Republican (with leaners)          

10%                 N = 111

 

White                                           

11%                N = 124

Black                                              

49%                N = 528

Hispanic/Latino/a                                     

36%                N = 387

Asian                                       

2%                  N = 23

Other/Multi-racial                                    

2%                  N = 22

 

HS or Less                                    

34%                N = 376

Some College/Vocational           

30%                N = 329

College degree or more             

34%                N = 377

 

Question wording and order

Approval items released on 23 August

Political Efficacy Items to be released at a later date

We know it can be a sensitive area, but we’d appreciate it if you could answer a few questions about racial segregation in your neighborhood.

S1. Would you say the public schools where you live have students who are mostly white, mostly black, mostly another race or ethnicity or are the students from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds?

Mostly White

Mostly Black

Mostly Brazilian or Portuguese

Mostly Another Race or Ethnicity

A Variety

[DK/REF]

 

S2. Thinking about the public schools where you live, would you prefer more racial and ethnic diversity, less racial and ethnic diversity, or are things fine the way they are now?

More

Less

Fine the way they are now

[DK/REF]

 

S3. In the neighborhood where you live, would you say the public schools are segregated by race and ethnicity or is there a good mix of different races and ethnicities?

Segregated

A Good Mix

[DK/REF]

 

S4. Ideally, schools would have all of the characteristics that we want. But if you had to choose just one as being the most important, would you want a school that’s well funded, a school that’s racially integrated, or a school with teachers who look like the students?

Well-funded

Racially integrated

Teachers who look like students

[DK/REF]

 

S4A. [Only respondents who provided an answer to S4] And which of the remaining options would be your second choice? [ONLY PROVIDE OPTIONS NOT PICKED IN S4]

Well-funded

Racially integrated

Teachers who look like students

[DK/REF]

 

S5. If you could choose, which of the following best describes the neighborhood that you would prefer to live in?

Under 5% black

More than 5 but less than 10% black

Between 10 and 25% Black

Between 25 and 50% Black

Over 50 but less than 75% Black

Over 75% Black

[No Preference]

[DK/REF]

 

S6. There has been some controversy in recent months about the role of charter schools in Newark’s school system. On the whole, do you think that charter schools…

Have been good for Newark students

Have been bad for Newark students

Haven’t impacted students much one way or the other

[DK/REF]

 

Release Tables

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

Sex

 

Would you say the public schools where you live have students who are…

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Men

Women

Mostly White

5

14

1

5

5

4

Mostly Black

41

19

60

23

38

44

Mostly Brazilian or Portuguese

3

10

1

4

4

3

Mostly Another Race or Ethnicity

7

12

3

12

8

6

A Variety

38

36

29

51

39

36

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

9

6

5

6

7

 

 

 

Sex

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

Thinking about the public schools where you live, would you prefer…

Overall

Men

Women

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

More Racial and Ethnic Diversity

46

42

49

38

55

35

Less Racial and Ethnic Diversity

6

7

4

5

6

7

Things are fine the way they are

41

45

39

46

32

52

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

7

6

8

11

7

6

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

Thinking about the public schools where you live, would you prefer…

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

More Racial and Ethnic Diversity

46

51

45

31

Less Racial and Ethnic Diversity

6

4

6

12

Things are fine the way they are

41

39

39

50

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

7

6

10

7

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

In the neighborhood where you live, would you say the public schools are…

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Segregated by race and ethnicity

29

31

25

24

A good mix of different races and ethnicities

62

59

67

73

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

9

10

8

3

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

In the neighborhood where you live, would you say the public schools are…

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Segregated by race and ethnicity

29

39

36

16

A good mix of different races and ethnicities

62

52

54

75

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

9

9

10

9

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

In the neighborhood where you live, would you say the public schools are…

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Segregated by race and ethnicity

29

22

31

32

31

A good mix of different races and ethnicities

62

68

60

58

58

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

9

10

9

10

11

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

Ideally, schools would have all of the characteristics that we want. But if you had to choose just one as being the most important, would you want a school that’s…

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Well-Funded

56

60

56

44

Racially Integrated

16

16

15

17

Teachers with same race/ethnic as students

20

19

19

31

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

8

5

10

8

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

Ideally, schools would have all of the characteristics that we want. But if you had to choose just one as being the most important, would you want a school that’s…

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Well-Funded

56

67

60

48

Racially Integrated

16

18

15

17

Teachers with same race/ethnic as students

20

10

20

24

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

8

5

5

11

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

Ideally, schools would have all of the characteristics that we want. But if you had to choose just one as being the most important, would you want a school that’s…

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Well-Funded

56

49

57

61

58

Racially Integrated

16

18

16

10

21

Teachers with same race/ethnic as students

20

25

21

21

12

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

8

8

6

8

9

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

And which of the remaining options would be your second choice?

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Well-Funded

57

60

56

44

Racially Integrated

16

16

15

17

Teachers with same race/ethnic as students

21

19

19

31

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

5

10

8

 

 

 

 

First Choice

 

And which of the remaining options would be your second choice?

Overall

Well-Funded

Integrated

Teachers look like students

Well-Funded

57

 

70

65

Racially Integrated

16

51

 

32

Teachers with same race/ethnic as students

21

38

25

 

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

11

5

3

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

And which of the remaining options would be your second choice?

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Well-Funded

57

20

26

28

Racially Integrated

16

46

36

39

Teachers with same race/ethnic as students

21

22

31

24

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

12

7

9

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

And which of the remaining options would be your second choice?

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Well-Funded

57

27

30

24

25

Racially Integrated

16

42

34

40

35

Teachers with same race/ethnic as students

21

25

27

28

31

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

6

9

8

9

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

If you could choose, which of the following best describes the neighborhood that you would prefer to live in?

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Under 5% Black

5

3

5

13

5 to 10% Black

4

3

3

11

10 to 25% Black

8

8

8

11

25 to 50% Black

22

26

15

17

50 to 75% Black

17

17

17

13

Over 75% Black

12

15

10

5

No Preference [Vol]

26

24

34

21

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

4

8

9

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

If you could choose, which of the following best describes the neighborhood that you would prefer to live in?

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Under 5% Black

5

11

2

6

5 to 10% Black

4

7

3

3

10 to 25% Black

8

11

7

7

25 to 50% Black

22

19

24

22

50 to 75% Black

17

8

22

13

Over 75% Black

12

3

17

9

No Preference [Vol]

26

35

18

34

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

6

7

6

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

If you could choose, which of the following best describes the neighborhood that you would prefer to live in?

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Under 5% Black

5

4

5

4

5

5 to 10% Black

4

5

3

3

3

10 to 25% Black

8

10

6

8

10

25 to 50% Black

22

20

21

24

22

50 to 75% Black

17

17

19

17

14

Over 75% Black

12

11

16

11

12

No Preference [Vol]

26

27

24

26

26

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

6

6

6

7

8

 

 

 

 

Party ID

 

On the whole, do you think that charter schools have been…

Overall

Dem

Indp

Rep

Good for Newark Students

48

47

50

52

Bad for Newark Students

13

13

11

14

Haven’t Impacted Students Much Either Way

20

21

22

21

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

19

19

17

13

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

On the whole, do you think that charter schools have been…

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Good for Newark Students

48

51

49

44

Bad for Newark Students

13

13

13

12

Haven’t Impacted Students Much Either Way

20

14

22

22

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

19

22

16

22

 

 

 

 

 

Age

 

On the whole, do you think that charter schools have been…

Overall

Under 30

31-44

45-64

65+

Good for Newark Students

48

37

50

53

54

Bad for Newark Students

13

15

15

10

10

Haven’t Impacted Students Much Either Way

20

25

19

20

16

Don’t Know/Refused (Vol)

19

23

16

17

20

 

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