Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Under Kids First and Toback Administration Hoboken Ranks Much Higher than State and County as well as Newark, Trenton, Camden, and others in Most Recent New Jersey Violence and Vandalism Report; Continues 4 Year Trend of Elevated Incident Rates

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Maybe there are explanations other than "white flight" and segregation for why Hoboken parents are seeking alternative educational options for their children. For instance, The 2012-2013 Commissioner's Annual Report to the Education Committee of the Senate and General Assembly on Violence, Vandalism and Substance Abuse in the New Jersey Schools covers the time period from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013. Data for the report is obtained via District-Reported Data in the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System (EVVRS) and the Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Investigations, Trainings, and Programs System (HIB-ITP). 
According to the Report: 
The Commissioner’s annual report provides the Governor and Legislature with information reported by school districts concerning incidents of serious student misconduct grouped into the following five major reporting categories: violence; vandalism; harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB); weapons; and substance abuse. An analysis of trends yields indications of progress and ongoing concerns, and provides guidance to districts, other agencies, and the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) as they endeavor to focus resources on areas of need. 
In further analysis of the 2012-2013 New Jersey Violence and Vandalism Report it has been found that the incidents per 100 students rate in the Hoboken Public School District was higher (4.04 incidents per 100 students) than the school districts of Atlantic City (2.1), Newark (1.42), Passaic (1.77), Trenton (2.09) and Camden (2.58) as well as higher than the average number of incidents per 100 students in Hudson County (.96), NJ Charter School total (2.2) and the entire State of NJ average (1.55). These rates repeat previous comparisons vs the same districts from previous years providing further evidence for lack of addressing this important issue

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2013 NJDOE data 
Moreover, the 2012-2013 Hoboken Public School District average of 4.04 incidents per 100 students does not appear to be a one year aberration. In 2011-2012 the average was 4.06 incidents per 100 students, in 2010-2011 the average was 5.4 incidents per 100 students and in 2009-2010 the average was 5.22 incidents per 100 students. In all these years, the average number of incidents per 100 students exceeded both Hudson County and NJ State averages by a significant percentage. Please see the following diagram for this data presented in graphical format (Click to enlarge): 

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Such a 4 year trend is not trivial nor can it be simply explained by a single outlier year-- rather, a 4 year trend indicates something of a systemic nature. This is especially true when compared to other school districts, county and state averages. 
Expected claims of non reporting of data, the challenges associated with self-reported data, and how these reports are "unreliable" typically surface when district administrators and Board members are asked or confronted about these issues. There is also a tendency to say such things as "well, I don't feel threatened" or "I've been working there for x number of years, and its a safe place"-- all of which may or may not be valid. This post takes no position on these matters in any manner. 

Perhaps there are some valid, practical, and common sense reasons why parents in Hoboken are seeking alternative educational opportunities for their children and why the general school population is on a downward trajectory in the Hoboken Schools. 

Not that Violence and Vandalism is the only reason. I will be posting on other possible contributory factors including SAT scores, QSAC scores, high school graduation rates, and NJ Performance Reports.  Some Board members have been quick to point to "segregation" (and all that that term implies) in their rationale. I will try to point out there may be other reasons for why parents are seeking alternatives to the public schools under Kids First and Superintendents Carter/Rusak/Toback's administrations. 

Board Trustee McAllister presenting her interpretation of what
the Hoboken School District was like in 2009

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