Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Helen Hirsch Responds to Mayoral Intervention in Board of Education Politics

Click HERE to see how Ms. Hirsch's comments echo concerns of former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch--
“To the Editor:

I goofed. But one cannot have been around as long as I have without making a few mistakes. Sadly, I actively campaigned for, and persuaded others to join me in electing Dawn Zimmer Mayor of Hoboken.

I supported Dawn because she promised to open discussion about changing Hoboken’s form of government to that of Council-Manager; she has yet to follow through. The form of government under which we now live must share part of the blame for countless years of expensive mismanagement. Individuals run for office for a variety of reasons, most involving some flavor of vanity. Recent candidates, and subsequently mayors, have not proved to be prepared by education or experience to manage a population of thousands, and a budget in the millions of dollars. A Council-Manager form of government could fill that need. It would transfer the operation of the city to an individual hired by the council because of qualifications and expertise, an individual specifically trained to manage a city; it would place this management above politics.

Dawn also reneged on her promise to remain apolitical and to function in the interest of all of Hoboken’s citizens rather than a few. This failure was, for me, crystallized in the brazenness with which she lobbied on behalf of one slate for the Board of Education. She is repeating the behavior of mayors before her, endorsing the status quo for political reasons. One of the most important functions of a city is the education of its children. Hoboken is failing to live up to that responsibility. It spends more tax dollars per pupil than any other city in the state (except one) yet does not produce results reflective of this expenditure. Many parents flee to charter schools, private schools or home schooling.

Finally, Mayor Zimmer has yet to denounce the disgusting cartoon published by one of her recent appointees to public office. But a simple denunciation would be inadequate. The mayor should demand the immediate resignation of the author of this obscenity.

Helen Hirsch

Photo: "Big John"- Stevens Institute of Technology.