|8th Grade Graduating Class of 1964|
Sacred Heart Academy, Hoboken NJ
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Data Analysis Shows No Evidence of Segregative Impact of Charter Schools on Traditional Schools in Hoboken, New Jersey
One such discussion is currently taking place in Hoboken, NJ. A small, local charter school recently received approval for renewal as well as expansion of its existing charter. In NJ, charter schools undergo a through review in order to renew their charter every 5 years. In addition to the renewal, Hola requested expansion to the 8th grade from the current K-6 formation. The State of New Jersey approved both requests in early March of this year.
For various reasons, the Hoboken Board of Education decided to protest the decision and has subsequently entered into a legal petition/"lawsuit" in order for the renewal and expansion decisions to be revoked. (note: For alleged legal reasons the renewal and expansion decisions have had to be linked and joined according to some members of the Hoboken Board of Education. Interpretations vary.)
One of the primary arguments made by the Hoboken Board of Education is the financial toll charter schools are having on existing, traditional public schools in Hoboken and in New Jersey. This post will not address that issue. Another main argument is that the charter schools are having a "segregative" impact on the traditional public schools in Hoboken prompting some elected officials to refer to charter schools impact in Hoboken as causing "white flight." This post will attempt to address the segregative issue only and distance itself from any inflammatory rhetoric.
Various data have been presented on both sides of the issue either supporting or attacking the conjecture of charter schools segregative impact on the traditional public schools in the City of Hoboken, NJ. Unfortunately, most of the data reported has been relatively short term data (1-3 years of data) and little to no attempt has been made to take a more longitudinal examination of the historical low income percentage enrollment in the school district.
I have been able to obtain from the New Jersey Department of Education/Office of Finance the 1997-2013 "October 15th" Reports or the Application For State School Aid (ASSA). In order to be as consistent as possible, for my analysis I used what is commonly considered the "Line 39" data for FULL ON ROLL as well as RES LOW INCOME to obtain a fair approximation of the percentage of low income students attending the traditional Hoboken Public Schools. This method allows for excellent consistency over the many years of data and gives a good estimate of the proportional percentages.
When this data is plotted we observe an interesting trend-- the percentage of low income students attending the traditional Hoboken Public Schools exhibits a distinct downward trend over the past 16 years. If charter schools were having a segregative effect on the public schools, we would expect to see an upward trend in the percentage of low income students attending the traditional Hoboken Public Schools. I present the data in graphic form for ease of examination.
No doubt, this will not be the final word on the topic. That is not the intent of this post. And plotting such data is not the only way to support or disprove the conjecture. But I do think this analysis offers some compelling evidence that the addition of charter schools into Hoboken has not had a tangible segregative impact in terms of low income student enrollment on the traditional public schools. This may be due in large part to historic high low income enrollment in Hoboken's public schools going back many years. On a related note, it appears that any claim of a possible segregative effect of charters on the traditional public school enrollment in Hoboken NJ has failed to take into account the historical "set point" of the district which appears to be in the neighborhood of about 60.76% low income enrollment with a standard deviation of about 5.52%. There are also a number of city wide demographic trends occurring that may be impacting these percentages-- a general but persistent rise in the average family income over time in Hoboken is certainly proven by census data. Such a trend should be possible to observe over a 15+ year period. Additional analysis with more historical data should be forthcoming.