Most of us can recognize the faces who regularly attend public meetings, especially those who get up to the mic. The speakers we know (the 'regulars') are activists or political partisans or advocates/objectors for a particular agenda item.
So it's refreshing to see a Hoboken resident who is none-of-the-above, speaking at a meeting for the first time though not particularly comfortable with public speaking. Most of us aren't.
GA was very impressed with the eloquence of this Hoboken district mom, who spoke for many Hoboken district families on March 8, 2016 at the Hoboken School Board meeting. Here is the video, and below a transcription (if you prefer to read.)
And so we felt very ambivalent about the lawsuit between the district and a local charter school. We felt uncomfortable about the political and financial costs, the silence from civic leaders and the impact on local elections.
But lately, I have felt troubled by the political gaming outside and inside this board and so I decided to read up on the issues and here is what I learned:
At the heart of this case, a charter school asked the state for permission to renew and expand its charter. The school has the burden to show that this would not exacerbate segregation in the district. Segregative effect is essentially a civil rights question. It’s a legal question and I believe we need the courts to help us figure this out:
Here are 3 reasons why:
1.) As residents, we should be interested in whether public monies provide equal educational opportunities to students regardless of race, income or status.
2.) As a former Abbott district, we cannot enjoy free public pre-k at the same time as preventing equal protection questions from going to the court. Hoboken has free public pre-k as a result of the Abbott lawsuits, which asked similar questions to this case. To remedy the segregation that the court found, it permitted funding for public pre-k in certain urban districts, including ours. Public pre-k is enjoyed by many families in this town, including the children of non-district school leaders.
3.) As parents, we are too divided and emotionally invested in a certain answer. In our country, it is the courts that clarify our understanding of civil rights. And in Hoboken, we have never needed this more than now. To be clear, no one is calling for schools to get closed or calling anyone a “whatzit,” rather we are asking for a neutral party to answer these hard questions for us.
Secondly, I wanted to address the embarrassing antics at the last Board of Education meeting.
I expect that there will be difference of opinion and values among this board. But when the interests of this district’s students conflict with outside interests, the code of ethics makes it clear which takes priority. The code also dictates that board members do not take private actions that would compromise the board.
So here’s another way of looking at it: when you play for the Yankees but root for the other team and provide them with inside strategy, then no one will trust you, will want to play with you, or will want to hire you and certainly no one watching the game will like you.
The code of ethics not only exists to protect the interests of our district children but they also serve to protect YOUR public and professional reputation. You can advocate for any group of children but you cannot do so from that chair. If this is too difficult for you, then I know some highly qualified people who can serve our district children wholeheartedly.
So I want to say this as nicely as possible… but you need to get your act together! We are talking about the civil rights of children! Any reasonably intelligent person would know that political gaming is inappropriate.
Most of us in our family histories have experienced being “the other.” For many families in Hoboken, that struggle is still very real today. I call on school leaders to act sensitively and model integrity around issues of civil rights in our community. Thank you to the majority of the board who have refrained from political gaming and who have acted at great personal cost to defend the civil rights of children in our district!
No, thank you, Mrs. Kim.
|originally posted on "Hijinks on the Hoboken School BoE"|