Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Hoboken....Where the hypocrisy is staggering when it comes to charter schools: Editorial By Star-Ledger Editorial Board (January 11, 2015)

Hoboken Ferry Terminal (photo: Mark Critides)
The following is an editorial by the Newark Star Ledger documenting the hypocrisy concerning charter schools and traditional public schools, under served students, and the dynamics of a lottery on the charter school I helped found (Hola Dual Language School) and the school district where I was the Assistant to the Superintendent and a high school teacher (Hoboken School District). Finally it appears the full extent of the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken political group's  impact on the Hoboken Public Schools is being realized. Full Editorial CLICK HERE; for Comments on the article CLICK HERE. -Dr. Petrosino 
The biggest knock on charter schools has always been that they fail to take their fair share of at-risk kids. 
This isn’t necessarily nefarious: Factors like more proactive parents also mean that better off kids are more likely to enter the lottery. Some charters, like Hola, a dual-language school in Hoboken, are truly mission-driven, and do everything they can to recruit the neediest kids. 
They go door-to-door and pass out fliers. But until recently, the state had considered another solution off-limits: A weighted lottery, in which charters put a finger on the scale to give an advantage to poor kids, who are disproportionately black and Latino. 
Thankfully, this seems to have changed. When Superintendent Cami Anderson set up a universal enrollment system to ensure charters in Newark take their fair share of at-risk kids, it set a precedent. David Hespe, the acting commissioner of education, said all charters can use weighted lotteries. 
So Hola is now seeking to set up a lottery to enroll more at-risk kids. The surprise, and the outrage, is that the district is trying to block the school from doing so. 
The hypocrisy here is staggering. The district has complained that Hola doesn’t take its fair share of at-risk kids, but now it is seeking to block a reasonable remedy. And the district itself is exacerbating the problem by allowing white families to move their children from the most segregated school in the city, Connors Elementary, to other area schools. 
To understand how preposterous this all is, you need some background on the ongoing battle over Hola. It’s a popular charter that immerses kids in Spanish and English starting at a young age. The program is terrific, and its test scores are excellent. So what’s the problem? In a word, race. 
The district has been trying to stop Hola's expansion on the grounds that it has been drawing too many white students away from district schools. The district isn’t trying to claim that Hola is doing this on purpose, given the charter's active efforts to recruit at-risk students. But while Hola has so far managed to get twice the portion of minority kids as the city’s population, it still has a smaller portion than the district schools. 
In its $50,000 lawsuit, the district blames this on Hola. Instead of trying improve its own offerings, the district is using its resources to go after the charter -- even trying to block Hola from giving low income kids an extra shot in its lottery this year. 
There’s a waiting period for the district to give its opinion on a weighted lottery, and because the district has sought to delay this process, Hola will likely be unable to do one until January of 2016. This means the extra shot for low income kids this year has been squandered. They will have to wait for Hoboken politics, because the district refuses to allow what is right. -Newark Star Ledger Editorial Board