Saturday, October 20, 2012

"Keeping the Progress Going"???-- Political Endorsement for Board of Education Group Despite Questionable 4 Year Record of District Leadership

It wasn't that long ago that Kids First members voiced outrage and disdain when a Hoboken mayor lent support for a few Board of Education candidates. Kids First members would cry out for the separation of city hall politics from the operation of the public schools. One Kids First candidate was quoted then as saying "there is no place for City Hall politics at the Board of Ed."   Not so much these days it seems. In fact, it has become common place for the Kids First political group to support mayoral candidates as seen in this story that was published on NJ.COM

According to a recent email (see picture above) the local mayor of Hoboken wants to make sure that the political group known as Kids First "keeps the progress for our schools going". I imagine there is some subjectivity involved in how one defines progress. Nonetheless, it seems as if even the most liberal definition of progress would be challenged by some facts that perhaps the mayor is not aware of or perhaps has decided is not relevant to the type of progress she sees at the Hoboken Board of Education. 

For instance: 

Under KIDS FIRST the Hoboken School District has been classified a "District in Need of Improvement" by the state and federal government for the first time in its history. Probably would not qualify for "progress" by my definition. 

Under KIDS FIRST over 90% of students now attend a school that has failed to meet state and federal NCLB Adequate Yearly Progress for the past 3 years (only 14% attended a school that failed AYP before KIDS FIRST took control of the Board of Education). Again, probably not an example of "progress" by most people's definition. 

Under KIDS FIRST a December 2011 independent financial audit by the firm Lerch, Vinci, & Higgins found the Board had 7 "recommendations" including the fact that the district oewd $783,000 for food services and that the Hoboken School Board spends significantly more per pupil in legal costs than New Jersey's average

Under KIDS FIRST there have been 4 high school principals in 2 and a half years and 3 superintendents in less than 2 years. This type of leadership change and the rate of change would hamper any kind of progress. 

Under KIDS FIRST local Hoboken Adult Night School was terminated.

Under KIDS FIRST resident Hoboken children attending our traditional public schools has fallen and KIDS FIRST has approved to bring in as many as 350 students from surrounding communities to make up for the loss of student population. 

Under KIDS FIRST the Board of Education budget has risen from $59.1 million to $63.2 million during a period of decreasing student enrollment. Certainly little progress has been made here. In fact, in the Spring of 2009 members of Kids First said they couldn't support a $59 million budget but now they seem to embrace a $63 million dollar budget. 

Under KIDS FIRST, Hoboken has spent the most money per student in Hudson County. Current per pupil cost is approximately $22,639 per student.  

Again, progress can be a subjective term and certainly I do not mean to suggest there has been no progress. But it would be interesting in light of the preceding information, what kind of progress one means when speaking specifically of Board of Education leadership. 

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