Friday, April 4, 2014

Divisive, incorrect language about charter school- Letter to the Editor, Hoboken Reporter 3/30/14 (with active links)

Reading Celebration at Hola Dual Language School
Hoboken, NJ
Maybe there are explanations other than "white flight" and segregation for why Hoboken parents are seeking alternative educational options for their children. For instance, this letter published on March 30, 2014 in the Hoboken Reporter articulates specific reasons why one family decided to send their child to the Hola Dual Language School in Hoboken, NJ. This letter points out the benefits of dual language acquisition as well as disappointment 5 years ago when every member of the Kids First political group on the Hoboken Board of Education rejected the original request made by the founders of Hola, the then Superintendent of Schools, and myself. The letter also takes issue with some claims by current Board members of segregation and "white flight" as well as overblown financial implications for Hola's expansion. Overall, this is an excellent read and and very well informed, especially in critically examining the negative role the political group known as Kids First has had on dual language education in Hoboken in general and on the Hola Dual Language Program in specific. -Dr. Petrosino 

Dear Editor:

My husband and I have 2 children attending the HoLa Charter School. We chose to put our daughter’s name in the publicly held lottery for HoLa, not because it was a “Charter School”, but because we were passionate about the benefits of early childhood language acquisition, which no other Hoboken school offered. There are many studies to suggest that learning other languages works best when started at a young age and that dual language education has greater impact the longer the students participate, so we were thrilled to have the opportunity to send our children to HoLa.

I, like many other parents attended the Board of Education meetings 5 years ago, asking the board to consider HoLa for the public school system. That request was denied. As a result, the team that created HoLa brought it to the state and the charter was created. Had this been a part of the Hoboken public school curriculum, we would have been equally thrilled to send our children. 

Mr. Gold, I take issue with your opinions and the phraseology you used to describe the effect HoLa has on Hoboken (i.e. “white flight”, “separate but equal” “take from the poor to give to the affluent” “bankrupting the public schools”). It is irresponsible, antiquated, racist, offensive and factually deficient. Your divisive words and tactics do not help or change what is happening around you. The fact remains that HoLa’s demographics match Hoboken’s as a whole. The lottery is completely random.

Your claim that you will have to lay off teachers and cut programs because HoLa received permission from the State to expand by 2 more grades is absurd! Taxpayers should know that you recently authorized $20,000 to hire an attorney just to appeal the expansion of HoLa. You are placing the blame for your budgetary issues on a school which is thriving (while spending 50 percent less per pupil), yet you throw $20,000 at an attorney to fight us. As you know, the public schools keep 10 percent per child from HoLa’s funding, which allows the board to make money for children they do not even have to educate.

The Charters are here to stay. Instead of re-hashing your tired arguments, you should focus your energies on innovating and moving public schools forward for the community that voted you into office.

Stop assigning blame and focus! Focus on where the $24,000 per pupil, spent by the public schools, is actually going. A quick search online shows that the Hoboken public schools spend much more per pupil on average than the rest of the country and state.

Focus on transforming Hoboken High School into a place the charter parents will want to send their children. Focus on making our public schools a desirable option. Use the money, time and resources you have, to make the school system one of which we can all be proud. If you see the HoLa program as a threat to your teachers and budget, create Mandarin, Spanish or French options for Hoboken families. 

Be proud to be a part of a city that encourages diversity and growth within the school system. Give up this fight and work with the charters to make Hoboken a place for educational choice and community growth

Christiane Hoffman

Read more: Hudson Reporter - Divisive incorrect language about charter school