So, what’s the real problem?

I grew up in East Orange in the 1940s and 50s. I attended EO public schools. I graduated EO high school in 1961. At the time EOHS was nearly 50% black. We all got the same education, for the most part we all got along.

Today East Orange is 97% minority, mostly black. EO has a median income of $45,000 with 19% in poverty, about the same as the state of Mississippi. East Orange spends nearly the same per student as much higher performing schools and has a teacher/student ratio of 15:1

East Orange residents pay high taxes, mostly to support schools.

East Orange is failing it’s students. From the data, students are not prepared for higher education and even worse are not prepared for even low skill jobs based on math and reading proficiency scores. These students are far behind the starting line before the race begins.


Is it the school administration, the teachers, poverty, family life or the lack of it, lack of motivation? I don’t know. But I’m pretty sure in this city and many others like it, we don’t solve our many social and economic problems unless we solve this one.

What possible good are free college, baby bonds, tax credits, higher minimum wage and such if there is no foundation to get anywhere.


  1. In recent times, several conservative black leaders have declared that the problems start in the home and they are trying to get men to act like fathers. To give children two parent homes. A quick check of marriage rates in NJ is that the average is 51.5%. In East Orange it is only 32.1%. Many black fathers are sitting in NJ jails from their own poor choices and this could be a factor in East Orange too. Throwing money at welfare programs is enabling instead of helping. Not to make this a political discussion, but there are candidates running for office in Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Detroit that have walking tour campaign aids of their cities. The same party has control these cities for decades and they are just slums. Their point and mine is we have to do something different. Education will help get you out of poverty but just throwing money at poor people and giving them an unearned free seat in college will not make them educated. I don’t know what the answer is but breaking up of the nuclear family is not one of them as one group of rioters has stated on their website. Everybody needs a support system of family and friends to be successful. The role model of the drug dealer on the corner is not it.

    As for the rest of us, maybe it all went bad when the experts declared that everybody gets a participation trophy so that nobody’s feelings get hurt. Several generations later, nothing is earned and everybody just expects things to be given to them. There is a big difference between equal opportunity and equal outcome. If you don’t do the work then expect a poor outcome.

    I fear that this covid lockdown and the virtual learning will have a devastating long term effects on children. Some parents might not have been there to ensure that their child was “in class” because they had to work. Others, may not know how to help their children in their lessons. I for one, totally do not understand the “common core curriculum”. It makes no sense to me. Other children may not have had the resources or the home environment to allow for home learning. I can’t wait for the studies on the class of covid-19 years from now. I am sure the problem will be worse in East Orange compared to the average NJ student resulting in the continuing poverty cycle.

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