The following letter was sent to Mary Barr Mann and Carolyn Parisi, the co-founders and editors of The Village Green by local author and music educator Tricia Tunstall. It is posted here with Tunstall’s permission.
Dear Mary, Carolyn, and The Village Green,
I’m writing to express thanks and admiration for your article “Segregated: A Working History of South Orange-Maplewood School Integration, Access and Equity Efforts.”
Mary, your thoughtful, meticulously reported piece is investigative reporting at its very best. Your commitment to this work is a gift to our district. And the entire statewide joint project is a hopeful development in a state where our most progressive ideals are so at odds with the shameful realities of so many of our school systems.
My family’s move to Maplewood 32 years ago was motivated as much by the district’s avowed commitment to racial integration as by the town’s strong skew toward artists and the arts. Ever since, I’ve been increasingly concerned to see every integration initiative fall short. I know that our state isn’t alone in this failure. But I think New Jersey could and should be a national leader on this foundational issue.
The “Segregated” project gives me hope that with the kind of reporting your outstanding piece represents—and with your demonstrated commitment to extensive, continuing coverage of our school system—a robust majority of Maplewoodians (and New Jerseyans) will enter the public conversation and insist on the kind of intensive systemic changes we need to create a truly integrated education system that serves all of our children well.