Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Myth or Fact

As many know, last night's Hoboken School Board meeting was packed with parents from Hoboken's dual-language school, HoLa. 

It seems HoLa applied to the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to expand its charter from K-5 to K-8.  When a charter makes an expansion request, the NJDOE requires an impact statement from the Superintendent of Public Schools; in Hoboken, that's Dr. Mark Toback.  An impact statement is an assessment of how the changes in the charter application would affect the public school district and its students.  Dr. Toback's impact statement  to NJ  Commissioner of Education, Christopher Cerf is what packed the room last night.  

GA hears there may be some misconceptions floating about...


1. Myth or Fact: School Board melee knocked down a light pole.

Today at 8:15 AM

A. MYTH.  This light pole at the corner of Willow and 11th street (Wallace School) was bent by a wayward car.  GA recommends the driver's license be shredded and placed in a hamster cage.  Because anyone driving like this at a school intersection doesn't belong on the road. As for the School Board,  in spite of high emotions, GA hears the atmosphere was civil and the discourse polite. 

2: Fact or Myth: Toback is against Hola and wants it's charter revoked.
A. MYTH: Toback supports HoLa grades K-5, without expansion. Toback does not want renewal of the amended charter, not a revocation of the original charter.  And he calls for a study prior to granting the renewal.  GA agrees, this wasn't clear in his letter.

3. Fact or Myth: Toback does not support HoLa expansion because he is a big meanie.
A. MYTH: Toback wrote that he does not believe the model urban district that includes a mix of charter, private and traditional public schools can happen if public schools continue to lose huge amounts of funding to support charters "especially when we have increasing enrollment. "

4. Fact or Myth: Hoboken School enrollment is increasing.
A. FACT: Enroll ment is increasing and please note, public schools must take ALL CHILDREN, unlike charters. Our public school enrollment has been growing every year, take a look:.

VIEW DOCUMENT

5. Fact or Myth: Hoboken public schools cannot sustain expansion of charter schools without devastating impact on schools OR taxpayers.
A.  FACT.  Public schools are facing steep increases EACH YEAR as a percentage of our operating budget for the 'status quo' and CANNOT sustain another (estimated) $700,000 to $1,000,000 on top of CURRENT INCREASES without severely impacting our students and that is a FACT.  Actual costs and appropriations:

VIEW DOCUMENT

6.  Fact or Myth: HoLa enrollment is sharply increasing.
A. MYTH: Dr. Toback reports that HoLa currently has 18 children in (2) 5th grade classes- 9 kids per class.  Which means the top grade (5th) has LOST 59% of their students since the start of program, 44 children (22 per class).  At the current rate of enrollment dropping, how many would be left by 8th grade?  So, while public school enrollment is INCREASING, an expansion of a school that is precipitously DROPPING enrollment would take an unsustainable percentage of the public schools operating budget.

7.  Fact or Myth: Dr. Toback is making the decision about the HoLa expansion.
A. MYTH: No. Commissioner Cerf will.  As noted, Toback was required to write an impact statement.

8. Myth or Fact:  The more Hoboken residents former BoE candidate/ realtor/ politico Brian Murray scares 'to the burbs' by attacking Hoboken's public schools, the more likely he will obtain  hefty real estate commissions.
A.  Fact.  Murray's harsh and constant stream of negativity about Hoboken Public Schools, his refusal to acknowledge even the smallest material improvements with the nasty tone of his rhetoric strike GA as marketing gor his business. Here is what a Hudson County TV reporter said in February 2013 in a piece about Murray's "Hoboken to the Burbs" group called "The Hoboken 3":  "The Hoboken 3 are hoping to drum up new business as a result of the seminars but it may take some time."  And one of their realtors said: "The schools are the number one priority for anyone moving out of town."

9.  Fact or Myth: GA thinks all of our kids are terrific: public, charter and private.  
A. FACT.

31 comments:

  1. Nancy - Toback was quite clear in his letter that he does not support the renewal of HOLA's k-5 charter which has actually already been approved through 6th grade. There is no ambiguity whatsoever. In fact there is no ambiguity whatsoever about his hostility to all of Hoboken's charter schools which he says are racist institutions that deprive the district of resources. He makes clear that he believes that the school district and the charters are inherently in an adversarial relationship and asserts that it is therefore "unfair" that charter parents get to vote for school board.

    One can agree or disagree with Toback but his letter says what it says. I can think of many adjectives to describe his letter, some positive some not, but "unclear" is not one of those adjectives.

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    1. I disagree but respect your right to your opinion. He did not request the revocation of the charter. And he did not call charters "racist institutions." Nor express hostility toward "all" of our charters. He is serves the Hoboken public school district, and his assessment is not 'personal', his position is that the ever-increasing funding as a percentage of school's operating costs is unsustainable. You are welcome to contact me offline: grafixavenger666@gmail.com

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    2. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said "everyone has a right to their own opinion, but not to their own facts," Toback calls for the forced integration of our already diverse charter schools saying something the effect that it is shocking that so many years after the civil rights movement such an outrage could exist. And he expressly demands that HOLA's charter renewal - not its expansion request - be put on hold until a study can be conducted that he clearly believes will confirm his position that it ought not to be renewed. He also argues that this is necessary because it is unfair that charter parents get to vote in school board elections given what he sees as an inherently adversarial relationship between the best interests of the district and the charters.

      I am not reading between the lines here. It is completely fair to agree or disagree with his position but he has made that position crystal clear. While I do not agree with him, I do commend him for having the courage to state is position clearly and honestly.

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    3. Forced integration? I didn't read that in the letter. I heard frustration that with the lottery system you don't see the demographics of the city fully reflected in the classroom. That's a distinct difference and it's an obvious problem which can be corrected perhaps on a weighted application.

      Toback is not wrong about the inherent electoral inequality. For the last two years anti-district people have run for the BoE with the intent to take resources out of the wider school district and hand it to the charter schools (and their kids). Think that's unfair or untrue? Joe Branco ran on exactly that idea.

      Is that an isolated happening or part of a trend? Either way, it's a declaration of war by one group of parents on another. That is what Toback is pointing out.

      Based on all these problems, a study from above, re: the State is not an unfair request. It certainly is not more unfair than asking the taxpayers to support expanded classes with nine students in each classroom.

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    4. That is (your) spin, not fact-- that Toback calls for "forced integration". "Unfair" that charter parents get to vote in School Board elections? A lot of spin there, Anon. It looks to me like you are trying to provoke conflict between public and charter school parents with such extreme rhetoric.

      Toback speaks for the Hoboken public school district and I wouldn't expect anything less than being the strongest advocate to advance the education of public school kids and do his best for our public schools. You can call it "courage" if you want.

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    5. I think the argument is a good one regarding charter school parents voting in school board elections but sadly this won't change.

      It is most criminal that tax payers do not have the right to vote for Charter School boards or on their budget.

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    6. By weighted integration do you mean quota's? If not, would you explain please.

      Keep in mind that siblings get preference over others.

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    7. The only people who should have priority for a slot in a charter school are those who are impoverished and on free or reduced lunch programs.

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    8. It is my understanding that the state will not allow weighted applications.

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  2. A family wishing to move the suburbs for any reason, including schools, is not going to hire Murray to find them a home in Montclair, Ridgewood, Maplewood or Westfield or any of the towns in Westchester, Rockland or Connecticut.

    Any prospective buyer would know enough to work with an agent who knows those towns - not someone whose business model is "don't ya just hate Hoboken's schools?" How did he ever think he was remotely electable? And how is it that he's still employed by whatever agency would have his sorry ass on staff?

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  3. Hola is adding a 6th grade for school year 2014-2105. They got a waiver to add the 6th grade bypassing the process!! Interesting?? How? Why? Who approved? So, this expansion is for adding 7th and 8th grade for 18 or less students. A lot of these students have transferred to other schools in town, including the district and private schools. They have a number of students who are not even residents.

    Question, Can Dr. Toback still send his letter without the resolution? I understand the vote on that resolution was not taken? Garcia should abstain from all this.

    January starts a nice new era on the BOE.



    Also, is Dr. Toback still sending the letter?

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    1. What do you mean? How were they able to get a waiver? Why were they able to get a waiver for 6th and not through 8th? Something smells.

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    2. The letter has been tabled for the time being so that Dr. Toback can flesh out the details and meet with Charter directors, etc. That's my understanding. It is also NOT mandatory that he write an impact statement.

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  4. There is a number of Hola students who do not live in Hoboken. It would be interesting to know of the Hola parents who attended the meeting last night - how many were non-residents.

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    1. Personally I only recognized one lady seated on the floor. A few people I recognized in the back room especially the usual cast of clowns.

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    2. I'm an HoLa parent & of all the people that spoke last night, only one was a non-resident. They all gave out their addresses. No one is hiding anything. The state granted the waiver for 6th grade last year. Nothing fishy. The state makes these decisions. Yes, the 5th grade is small. It had some issues the other grades didn't have, although all the kids are wonderful. Next year there will easily be 35-40 kids in 5th grade. Hoboken is a town where people move sometimes - this shouldn't come as a great shock.

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    3. The shock is you all knew about the state decision back in July and didn't bother to reach out to the community. YOU are all a bunch of selfish, vile people. I hope you don't get your expansion and I implore ALL to write letter opposing said expansion.

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    4. Reach out in what sense? I'm asking sincerely. A press release? And what does the knowledge that HoLa has 6th grade change? It says on HoLa's website that they are a k-6 school. The application this year is for 7th and 8th, and a negative (and poorly worded) letter from Dr. Toback could potentially influence the NJDOE's decision, which is why HoLa families went to the BOE meeting to advocate for their school. I'm sorry you think so poorly of those families. I'd love to see how the community would react if HoLa families said the same about the families at traditional publics!

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    5. There was never a need for another charter. NEVER. U clearly are ignorant to the history of Hola and those that "got" u ur school. U all don't need to talk ill of the district schools and their parents as u have chosen to segregate. And to say otherwise is disingenuous. Btw u people do talk ill of the district -- many at the meeting heard your comments never mind ur body language speaks volumns i.e. turned up noses

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    6. Here is your sincere answer: A simple phone call to the Superintendent informing him of the expansion would have sufficed. The expansion IMPACTS the district!!!!! TAXPAYERS need to know what is going on as well and while we don't expect it to come from Hola we do expect it to come from the person in charge of the district. Further, it impacts the elected Board of Education. Unlike you they have to answer to the taxpayers and are under public scrutiny while you all get away with murder!

      Did you read the letter to the parents coming from Carmelo Garcia's wife? Anyone who does can ascertain that it was handled in an underhanded manner.

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    7. I have many friends at the public schools. You live in a fantasy world. I don't turn my nose up at anyone. I'm public school educated. I'm from a working class family. I just want what I think is the best education for my children. That's all, and I'm being called a vile, selfish, snob and segregationist. I mean, honestly. If you want to ask questions about the budget or the board members or anything else, come to an HoLa Board meeting. They are open to the public. Ask all you want. Email Jen Sargent or Monica Generoso. Tour the school. Make an informed decision instead of launching attacks at parents. It actually frightens me that someone has the much hatred about a place where my children spend all their time.

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    8. I've never seen any actual evidence of this so segregation or underhanded means of getting the school. Could someone show me some proof or sources, so I can be enlightened? Thanks.

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  5. There is so much misinformation out there about this! Thank you GA for sharing the reality with us.

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  6. Horsey's site is blowing up.

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  7. Why wasn't the "wavier" for the expansion disclosed. Other charter schools may be interested in knowing how Hola was so "lucky" enough to get an a "waiver" on an application process. The small 5th grades numbers are not all due to relocation. There are some that transferred to the public schools, private and charter.

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    1. No one said it was all relocation.

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    2. None of the children that left at the end of the 2013 school year went to traditional publics in the district.

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  8. If this was the plan all along, then they should have originally applied for a K-8 charter. They also want to add Pre-K4. How different things would be if charters had to put their budget out to the public and then request their tax money from the city. Why can't the 18 kids be in one class, isn't that more cost efficient?

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  9. Watching the meeting online. Did Carmelo Garcia actually make a motion on the fly for something that will benefit HIS family, with no regard to what the impact may be to the families he swore to represent. He actually said on the dais "for me it's personal".

    I had to rewind it and watch again. What is wrong with him? No care about what the finncial impacts are on the kids in the public district? F&^K them I guess. $$ for his kid, bupkus for the many HHA kids in Connors?? What a saint.

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  10. Then Murray got up and thanked Carmelo for his service to the latino and african american community. Yes, thanks Carmelo for looking out for the Hola kids.

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