Friday, October 28, 2016

Hoboken High School: Total Grade 9-12 Enrollment Down -23.7%; Hoboken Resident High School Enrollment Down -41.7% During "Kids First/Reach Higher, Hoboken/Forward Together" 7 Year Majority Era

I find it a challenge to take seriously political slogans like "Continue the Progress" when the resident enrollment of Hoboken High School is down over 40% during the last 7 years. It is troubling when these political slogans concern the lives of Hoboken's most precious resource...its children and young adults. 
While I was Assistant to the Superintendent, Hoboken High School enjoyed a fantastic amount of independent, third party positive recognition from state and national media sources. During that period of time, we were voted the second most improved high school in the State of New Jersey by New Jersey Monthly and we won back to back Bronze Medal Awards by US News and World Report. All three awards were unsolicited. All three awards were well deserved. And all three awards were due to the coordinated work and cooperation between the teaching staff and by consistent leadership from building and district administrators.

Under the current Board majority leadership of the Hoboken School District (in place since May of 2009 and known by various names including Kids First/Reach Higher, Hoboken/Forward Together), Hoboken High School has gone through 5 principals in 7 years while the district has gone through 7 interim and "permanent" superintendents in roughly the same time period (Raslowsky, Carter, Rusak, Romano (never served), Toback, Brockel, and the current superintendent). 

Perhaps most critically, the newly renamed "Hoboken High School" and "Hoboken Middle School" rather than the "Hoboken High School/Hoboken Junior Senior High School" has gone though 4 different configurations and/or name changes since 2010 alone (Grades 9-12 and Grades 7 and 8; Grades 9-12; Grades 8-12;  Grades 7-12)

Figure 1: HHS Total Enrollment Data 2009-2016
Click to Enlarge

From the enrollment data in Figure 1 it appears as if parents of high school age students in Hoboken are finding alternative educational options and may not be completely happy with the reconfiguration approved by the Kids First/Reach Higher, Hoboken Board majority.  Other factors may include that since 2009 the High School has not been recognized as positively by New Jersey Monthly or US News and World Report. Other issues may also play a role. What is clear is that since the 2009-10 school year, Grade 9-12 enrollment is down -23.7% in Hoboken High School. 

Perhaps more telling, Grade 9-12 enrollment of Hoboken resident students (omitting "choice" students, which I helped bring to the district in 2009) has plummeted -41.7% since 2009-10 school year, the first year of the Kids First/Reach Higher, Hoboken/Forward Together era

Figure 2: HHS Grade 9-12 Resident Enrollment
Data 2007-08 to 2015-16
Click to Enlarge

The trend is even more telling when we look at enrollment data over a much longer period of time at Hoboken High School (see Figure 3). Before the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken/Forward Together era there was a noticeable uptick (2003-04 to 2008-09) in Hoboken High School enrollment of resident students in Grades 9-12. Once the Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken/Forward Together era began (see red bar graphs in Figure 3), Hoboken families have been abandoning Hoboken High School at an alarming rate. 

Figure 3: HHS Grade 9-12 Resident Enrollment
Data 1998-99 to 2015-16
Click to Enlarge

A few things supporters of Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken/Forward Together may not realize that may have an impact on these enrollment numbers: 

1) lower SAT scores than expected from economic status of student families
2) designation of the Hoboken School District as a District in Need of Improvement
3) low rating of the Hoboken School District by independent news organizations
4) violence, vandalism and bullying in the Hoboken Public Schools; and 
5) five consecutive years of failing INSTRUCTION AND PROGRAM as evaluated by the New Jersey Department of Education
6) recent teacher effectiveness ratings
7) High School graduation rates

A quick summary: 

The Hoboken Public School students obtain SAT scores lower than expected by their socio-economic status, they are in a district that was designated by the New Jersey Department of Education as a "District in Need of Improvement" and this district has failed the New Jersey QSAC DPR for Instruction and Program for the past 4 years. The Newark Star Ledger gave the district high school a "D". In addition, the district was rated the 9th most violent school district in New Jersey by and the rate of violence and vandalism incidents in the schools remain very high compared to schools in Hudson County and around the state. Add to this 6 superintendents in 7 years and 4 different district configurations in the same period and we can see reason why the quality of education the poor and disadvantaged students of Hoboken are receiving under the leadership of the "Kids First/Reach Higher Hoboken!/Forward Together" political group might be considered a threat to their civil rights. Especially if one considers the quality of an education to be a civil right.