Big sticks

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Yesterday we learned some startling news.

America's premier civil liberties organization, the ACLU, and NJ's leading public education rights organization, ELC, (who brought our state the landmark Abbott decision -Hoboken is a beneficiary) have partnered as amicus curiae, for the Hoboken District BoE appeal.

I wish we had this news much sooner, because the ongoing organized PR campaign against the Hoboken District has had some success in shaping public opinion.

GA says, it's one thing to speak softly and carry a big stick, it's another thing to put away your big stick and allow yourself to be beaten black and blue.

In my opinion, that's what's been going on.

Respondent Barbara "losing people like me" Martinez, Respondent Anthony "Curious Gal"  Petrosino, BoE Trustees Biancamano-Montgomery-Madigan (their staged "live motion" to withdraw the appeal and use of Roberts Rules to shut down discussion,)  Respondent-Trustees who haunt Hoboken School Board meetings, brag about PARCC scores and trash district schools; there is a cumulative effect of the fumes they've blown into the ether.

That's why, in my opinion, it's time to speak softly about the big stick(s).

The ACLU-ELC appearance for the Hoboken School Board is one big stick.

Another big stick ( ironically) comes from the Respondents' amicus brief, written by the NJ Charter School Association (CSA) after the ACLU-ELC stepped in for the Appellants.  

It appears the NJ Charter School Association's amicus admits that NJDOE Commissioner Hespe followed the Christie administration's political agenda in making his March 20, 2015 decision.  This affirms the BoE's decision to  appeal. 

It's right there, folks....

GA already posted the conclusion of the School Board's amicus brief, now here's the  CSA':

See what I mean?

That's quite an admission by the NJ Charter School Association about the goals and intent of the Christie administration!

The NJ Charter School Association/Christie administration argues is that redevelopment in Hoboken is "a process of reintegration..."  

NJ Charter School Association Amicus brief- page 27

GA knows some HoLa families, and they do not fit the cynical Christie-  NJ-Charter School Association agenda argued here. They are good and decent folks.  

The NJ-CSA arguments are bizarre- and offensive to say the least, but the court of public opinion doesn't get to decide, the Appellate does.

 In the meantime, the show must go on...


  1. Holy shit!! They admit they are catering to white affluent people! Wow. Just wow. Please tell me their brief was submitted as satire.

    1. I have had the opportunity to read the ACLU brief - it shreds HOLA's racial composition from the start of the school and eviscerates their arguments in a very composed, concise manner. When taken with the Charter School amicus, it is celar that HOLA has a great deal of explaining to do. And that explaining needs to be disinfected with sunshine. HOLA's manipulation of data and statistics to justify their application could only come from the moron posing as a professor Petrosino. The ACLU brief is very easy reading - not a lot of legal gibberish. After reading it, it is no wonder that the ACLU and the ELC jumped into the fray.

  2. Double holy shit!!! Cannot believe the njdoe argues charters are to keep white, affluent people from moving to the suburbs!!!

  3. I'm shocked the amicus calls Hoboken redevelopment "leading to community "reintegration." WTF?

  4. Petrosino? I don't know what the statue of limitations are but shouldn't Hoboken BOE file suit against Petrosino for theft of services and fraud for working in Austin while collecting pay in Hoboken?

  5. WOW! Really, just WOW.

    Christie has an agenda to "embrace" charters to "reintergrate" urban areas with (whiter richer) suburbanites???? And his offical State funding formula pays for his preferred "option" by removing funds from the existing urban public school (educating mostly low income or minority) so that the whites have someplace comfortable to go and not run back to the suburbs?

    WOW. Really. Just. WOW.

    Are there oral presentations in this kind of case? I honestly have to hear someone say that out loud.

  6. Does anyone know the date of this trial?
    A packed room would viewing this case would be interesting.
    I can't imagine what excuses the judge will come up with.
    Well yes, I guess if we take a few quaaludes, white flight is a type of integration, but your honor, hoboken has been white for quite sometime.

  7. The ACLU and Education Law Center filed their Amici Curiae, Nov 30th 2015.

    HoLa becomes "a pioneer in pursuing the weighted lottery" which the NJ DOE approved on Dec. 15th, 2016.

    Hmm... funny how that came to be!!

  8. From their conclusion, the NJCSA seems to acknowledge that the Commissioner's decision was made, not from the required analysis, but because the Commissioner used his "broad discretion". The end justifies the means. Rules schmules if it's for you?

    1. The appeallant court remanded the applicatin to hespe,citing that the DOE did not address the segregational issues in the renewal/expansion, (which is required under the state's regulations).
      Hespe then resubmitted the application once again ,not addressing the segregational issues discussed. Back to appealate court. Round 2
      charter association is saying hespe's opinion is "good enough"; asserting Hespe can make decisions about segregation based on what ever he feels is important and doesnt hav eto address the issues discussed.
      They then blame the state's segregation issues on the longstanding practices of the state and basically assert that charters shouldn't have to follow segregation corrections especially when the state is considered one of the most segregated state in the country.
      That all ends with this year's newest charter buzz phrase "serving the white flight population"
      The new buzz term seems to be some type of kumbaya PR campaign they are trying out for white people to grow their industry. Odd, if you ask me, but they've done an amazing job of growing their industry, so who knows?
      Last year's terms were: My child! My choice! They had fancy shirts and book bags. Quite the branding job. That group even had a table at the League of Municipalities event. Kudos to Barbara Martinez and her Uncommon/Kipp groups-the branding, transportation and organization was pretty impressive. Then again, with the boatloads of money coming from Gates and Walton it really is not too surprising.

      Can't wait to hear the next new buzz terms they try out. They do put on quite the show.

  9. I got it. Segregation is caused by the shortage of redevelopment for affluent white people who move from the suburbs. Redevelopment leads to reintegration in a community with a shortage of white people, which some call a "white famine." This "white famine" is cured by redevelopment, a process by which a community may enjoy a "white feast." This reintegration of affluent suburban whites works by building more and more and more charters to keep them happy- one for Buffy, Muffy and Scruffy, and prevent another white famine, which would cause re-segregation- the opposite of reintegration. Makes sense to me! Thank you, NJCSA!

    1. Hespe - sounds good to me. APPROVED.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. Anon 1:29AM- How dare you attack children here, lie about the work they are doing at their school. The following is was sent to me offline by someone under their own name.

    Anonymous 1:29 am is trashing Connors. I was at all of the K tours and this is completely fabricated garbage. I think it's [redacted] posting. Principal Fitzhugh had 3 family tours this year so far because parents realize good things are happening there. This is a deliberate smear tactic against the integration efforts at Connors and it is deeply upsetting.

    1. Anon at 1:29 here. Actually, I'm a parent in the 4th ward, and I was trying to have a reasoned conversation. As I said in my original post, Connors has improved greatly. You are right that Fitzhugh is a very impressive educator and that is reflected in the increased test scores, the energy of the teachers, and the record number of parents touring the school. My wife went on one of those tours and even stayed to watch a class.

      If you have gone on tours however, did you notice the student's work on the walls? Did you see what they were teaching compared to the others? If you were researching where to send your kids, have you looked at the NJ DOE School report cards? Am I fabricating the test scores reported there?

      There are a lot of parents in my position tying to choose schools. It may be unsettling to you that we don't "integrate" (I'm not white), but when it's your kids, the decision you make may be different than when you're talking policy on a macro level. Look for your self at the kids in St. Francis and Connors. Are all of the St. Francis parents racists for picking St. Francis over Connors? Are all of the other educated parents of older kids in the 4th ward racists and/or hiding old guard motives for not sending their kids to Connors?

    2. But that's the point. Because of low income, educational disparities grow. You may not be an elitist or racist but the system currently is. The Connors kids get disparaged because of low scores but that's because their families don't make a lot of money because they don't have good educational outcomes because they don't have money because ... That cycle has to stop.

      That's what this fight is about. And the CSA admits it.

      You're anxious. I get it. Me too. We have to decide what kind of community and role models to be. If it takes a court order to at least get financial parity, so be it. This is not to close down Hola or the other charters. Don't believe that lie from the clowns running and profiting from hola.

    3. I agree with you, but am not so certain about the cure. If integration results in higher test scores, isn't that just reflecting the ongoing disparity, with numbers watered down by multiple higher income students? What these schools need IMO is better resources and a larger number of better teachers, tutoring available after hours and the consistent belief at every level that all children can learn.

    4. anon at 10:33 am - is the point of your post that anon at 1:29am should put her child in a school despite the poor results or that we have to get better results out of Connors?

    5. Anon 9:20 AM- per your request, I deleted your 9:30 AM follow-up post.

      You claimed to be a long time "fan" and reader, yet there is no record of you visiting this site prior to 12:31 AM on Feb 25, 2016 (today). Thus, I am inclined to think you are full of $hit. Feel free to contact me offline at

      In answer to your qs- I can speak with an authentic voice as a district parent whose district (and children) continue to be trashed in the manner you have- with generalizations that disregard real, socioeconomic factors which you attribute to "bad schools" but impact test score performance. And you know it, but it is always omitted from the conversation, as the schools are blamed, but the fact they are largely abandoned by a more advantaged sector of the population is harming the overall performance of the schools.

      Well, open your eyes. The Hoboken district teachers are excellent, and the work is challenging. In fact, 2 kids who left the district at the end of 6th grade came back and are in my daughter's honors classes. I won't name the school, but the parents said they went on a lot of field trips but "didnt learn anything". So they came back to the district. The rigor of the education in JSHS is completely misunderstood and misrepresented. My kid, a product of the Hoboken district got outstanding PARCC scores in language arts (839) and math (826)- she's been in John Hopkins accelerated math since 3 or 4th grade (forgot), is in the Harvard Model Congress debate club, and just now is joined the team building the Aquaponic Garden after school. (She will be furious with me when she sees this- where can I hide?) I am PROUD to say my kid was educated in the Hoboken District.

      Superintendent Johnson announced new programs next year, and fantastic offerings for the HS kids- like dual programs with colleges and bio-medical, engineering and computer science tracks. ALl are rigorous and offer college credits.

      The problem is, the folks trashing the schools are much better at getting the message out- one HoLa Board member sits on the Executive Board of the NJ Charter School Association, is a spokesperson for uncommon schools and is media savvy.

      Here is another email I received about your 1:29 AM post:

      It was very clear to me that this individual had not actually attended the K open houses (I was at all 4) and was just trying to scare people off from Connors. The writing we saw at Connors was fantastic and this was just straight up racist fear mongering expressed in the post.

      We are at such an interesting juncture with Connors. The Principal is very gifted, was nominated for a leadership award, and the school is off the federal focus list as of last June. The teachers work hard and they have some new innovative programs put in place (like an on site garden). ...So with all of these factors coming together, Connors has some momentum and a special opening to integrate.

      (redacted), (redacted), and I did a family testimonial series recently and interviewed parents from each District elementary school who have children currently in Kindergarten. No one can argue with someone's experience and they were all positive. In a yelp/amazon era, this was our small way to promote positive energy and positive messages that get drowned out by the loudest voices in the room.

    6. Thank you Anon 9:20 for adding what seems to me to be some thoughtful outside perspective. Its really easy even for good smart people to fall into the echo chamber trap and those in an echo chamber rarely realize that they are in it.

      The world is complicated which is why solving problems like differences in school populations and performance both within and among the districts is hard. Parents make what they consider to be the best choices they can afford for their kids, not the choices others think they ought to make and that others think they would make if only they were better more enlightened people. Any attempt to get parents to make different choices needs to accept that reality and work with it.

    7. School choice has created this problem of "where" the kid goes. Just read "Separate is Never Equal" to my kid about the "Mexican" school in California in the 1940's and separating the darker skinned kids from the lighter skinned ones. Still relevant.

      Maybe choice needs to be removed. Especially if you are asking my tax dollars to pay for disparate treatment through your choice. Because now you are saying the ones trying to do the right thing are the fools and arrogant because they want to do the right thing, as opposed to the selfish thing with tax dollars.

    8. Anon 10:58- I agree that parents need to make the choices they feel are the best for their kids. Unfortunately, misinformation about the resources, opportunities and rigor of the public school district in Hoboken perpetuates choices based on skewed information and misinformed bias. That is a fact, I have witnessed myself with the departure of many dear friends and classmates over time. I have been a playground mom- heard it all been there, done that. Stuck with the district in spite of the badmouthing, as did some friends, and for my daughter it was the right choice.

      Anon 11:13- I think I am in agreement with you on school choice.

    9. Snoopy - Improve by going there, not by running away.

    10. I totally disagree with you about choice but totally agree about misinformation. The claim that HHS is violent and dangerous is simply false yet many people believe it because that's what they've been told.

      But unconditionally singing the school's praises, is simply not believable to most parents who crave reliable, un-spun real information to base their decisions on which is often hard to find.

      The way to combat misinformation is with lots and lots of accurate information including an acknowledgement of the info that's not so good. If people think info is being cherry picked they're going to tune you out.

      Families always have choices and among other choices Hoboken's charter schools are here to stay no matter how the HoLa case is resolved in court. Its also a fact that the charter schools have the capacity to serve only a small fraction of Hoboken's kids, so its not an available choice for many families.

      Leaving people with the impression you'd like to deprive them of other choices, even choices they may not wind up actually having, is not going to persuade folks to choose the district for their children.

      GA's comment above about the 2 kids who left and came back from what I'm guessing was a charter school tells a tale about a school district well able to compete with its competitors. But if you're perceived as trying to take away choices from parents you're going to have a harder time getting families to listen to what you have to say.

    11. @Anon 11:41 AM, if you volunteered your home and time you could tutor some children. "Improve by tutoring, not by hiding in your home" is as fair as demanding a parent put their child in a low performing school so the school can average up.

      Put your money where your mouth is. If you expect a parent to give their child a worse school then you should be prepared to open your home to improve the lives of some students which will improve the school.

      Sacrifice starts with you @Anon 11:41 AM.

    12. Anon 12;41- oh, boy this is getting tiresome. Your premise about giving a child a "worse" school is obnoxious and ignorant. I'll say it again- the schools, teachers and resources are excellent, IMO "better" than other options (but only my opinion), which folks will learn if they don't listen to idiots like you.

    13. In you opinion the BOE run schools are excellent. Your opinion is just that, an opinion, and you're allowed to be wrong. What people are disputing is your right to enforce your opinion on other people.

      Charters exist, we voted people into office who created them and now children are getting what their parents feels is an excellent education at charters. These Parents may, and likely do, feel that the education they receive at the charter is superior to that of the BOE run school.

      You can disagree with the opinion that charters provide a better education but calling it obnoxious and ignorant is incredible offensive and small minded. And it's why you're losing the argument.

    14. Anon 12:59 you can be pleased with your child's school without pissing on the quality of other schools, particularly when not everyone has the opportunity to go to your child's school even if they want to.

      You are right though that railing against charters, wishing charters didn't exist and insisting they don't provide as good an education as people think is not an effective strategy for persuading people that our traditional district has an unfair bad rap (which I think it does).

    15. Anon 12:59- Anon 12:41 categorically stated a Hoboken district school was "worse" did NOT frame it as opinion (pppst...I framed my statements as opinion) is why I called 12:41 an idiot. Oh and by the way, who says "I" am losing the argument. That is simply YOUR opinion.

      The statement which was conclusive and NOT framed as opinion:

      "If you expect a parent to give their child a worse school then you should be prepared to open your home to improve the lives of some students which will improve the school."

    16. I think the prior November's election says you're losing this argument. People are rejecting candidates they find hostile to charters by simply not coming out to vote.

      Anon 12:41 did not say what you are proposing she said. And unless you are suggesting categorically that all BOE run schools are better than every Charter then yes there can be an occurrence where a Charter will give a specific child a better education that a BOE school. And a parent is empowered to pursue a Charter education and should not be subjected to attacks for doing so.

    17. 12:41 - It's not a question of "averaging up". All research supports the outcome that low-income students perform better and the advantaged kids see no drop in their performance. It's an actual improvement in performance. If you weren't so angry or defensive, you would remember the countless times that has been proven and you might even spell correctly. What next, all caps?

      As far as 11:41 opening her/his home - that makes no sense. They send their kid to the District, is that not enough to show their support? How about a foot massage? It's never enough for you folks. How selfish do you need to be? And to parade it about as though it were a thing of pride. You should feel embarrassed but that would require self-awareness instead of selfishness.

    18. Hey 1:37 - Why are the charters so great? Oh yeah, the basis for the lawsuit.

      And yes, please point to an election that put Madigan in charge of kids and money, with backing from the old guard. Congrats on making that happen. Now you know where your fleas came from.

    19. Anon 1:37- Wrong about the lost election.

      Reach Higher won handily on the machines, an avalanche of VBMs washed out 2 of the 3. Like the $14K Russo spent on campaign workers in an uncontested ward race- funny, at least 70 "campaign workers" were in 5th Ward's Fox Hills, a mostly senior citizen building.

      Winning via vote-buying is nothing to be proud of.

    20. And here I thought John Madigan and Britney Montgomery were elected to the BOE.

      Vote buying didn't win the election, they always buy votes. What was different this time is that enough people who supported reform council candidates were turned off by the anti-charter sentiment many associated with Sheillah Dallara and Addys Velez.

      The hostility to charters embodied in this lawsuit is an albatross around the Kids First/Reacher Higher group.

    21. Anon 2:22 - Nice spin. Not anti-charter but pro-District. But you know that distinction already. God forbid the BoE, or BoE candidates, fight for the District to stop an expansion. Can't have affluent white people reintegrating to Hoboken have to face that. If the honest candidates lose in Nov., at least they can say they did the right thing. You can't say the same thing.

      Now is your chance to try to change the focus again as you cannot dispute the merits of lawsuit. Let's talk about your feelings and not those of the kids you look down on and dismiss as less than important.

    22. "They always buy votes"- yes, like Biancamano's 466 VBM avalanche. Nice ethics there, Anon @ 2:22PM.

      Once again, the machines elected Reach Higher. The avalanche of votes washed in Madigan and Montgomery, who is horrible.

      Take a look: Hoboken Board of Education Unofficial Results (Machine, VBMs and Provisionals)

      Well, I have posted the Amicus briefs, so take a look and educate yourself that the action has nothing to do with "hostility."

    23. The reality of people like Madigan, Biancamano and their assistant Montgomery getting on the BOE is that it can only bring Bad News for future generations of Hoboken students. When the Madigan/Raia/Russo crowd ran the BOE the schools were a wreck and money was flying in countless directions for things having nothing to do with educating kids. Cell phone bills for teachers, steak dinners at Frankie and Johnnies, an account at Stan's on Washington that was beyond peculiar, overpaid air conditioner techs, etc...

      So congrats Charter Minded Voters. You may get your kid into your preferred avenue for education but you are screwing over the lives of numerous other kids in town. Thanks a lot!

    24. anon11:41am - thanks for responding. I don't have kids in the Hoboken district, but if I did i wouldn't put them in a school that I thought was not as good as my other options. I want what's best for my children, and will act accordingly.


  13. Submitted without comment:,d.cWw

    1. Don't mock the troglodyte.

  14. My Hoboken schools educated first grader scored in the 94th percentile in math and a DRA 2 score of 24.

    My child was in the summer Drama Camp and Shrek. The older kids have been very nice to my little one. The actress playing Audry in Little Shop of Horrors asked if m kid wither or not they would be auditioning for Beauty and the Beast.

    The kids in in JSHS Theater program are aces in my book.

    1. Awesome!!! That is great news, you must be so proud. Glad to hear, the kids are very nice to one another. There are so many wonderful opportunities for kids in the district.

  15. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Your 9:30AM post made no sense as I have never posted a "NY subpoena" on this site.

      You also wrote that you were a "long time reader and fan" yet there is no record of you on this site until today.

      I asked you to contact me offline, gave you my email but you have not. It appears to me you are a phony with an agenda.

      Projecting arguments which have not been made by anyone on this thread and are smearing Connors kids is unacceptable.

      Contact me at There is no reason not to if you are who you say you are. Until then, shove off.

    2. I haven't thus responded to this blog entry but I think you raise some interesting points. You have every prerogative to base the educational decisions you want for your kids but many of the commenters here are challenging the status quo and that's a good thing. There is a prevailing view of the schools in Hoboken that they are "bad." But something interesting is taking place... increasing #s of parents are sending their kids to the public prek program based on word-of-mouth that the program is actually not that bad. And that is building confidence in the public schools and a momentum in which an increasing # of kids are entering the public schools and are actually thriving in the district schools. That's been more evident at Wallace and Calabro where demographics are shifting and now we're at an exciting point where the balance is about to tip for Connors. It's radical and it's thrilling that educated parents are challenging the hearsay and initiating personal tours of the school to meet the principal and teachers. It's exciting that parents are not unnerved by a high population of low-income students but are embracing diversity and integration.

      You have every right to judge the school based on test-scores and compare what the Kindergarteners are doing at different schools but it's too simplistic to ignore socio-economic differences and chalk up excuses for passing up Connors as "nothing to do with race." The test scores are obviously higher at the charters and privates b/c *surprise* they have a larger population of privileged children. Many people justify making the best decision they can for their kid as not race-based but we all know that the cumulative social impact of those decisions has created a growing number of segregated schools today in numbers as before the civil rights era.

      I say all this as an ivy-league educated mom who could give a shit about test scores for a kindergarten student. (I mean, seriously?!) The fact that there's a grassroots, civil rights movement taking place among downtown Hoboken parents in support of Connors is historic and exciting. They are not bogged down by the past or perceptions or test scores, but are looking to the future. The fact that Principal Fitzhugh has turned around the school in 4 years and has filled the school with passionate teachers is huge and it's giving parents the confidence to claim Connors as their own. Test scores have risen tremendously at Connors and they will continue to rise as the schools integrate. Diversity of race and class will create a synergy that will allow students to learn from each other socially and academically. You worry about your children not being challenged at Connors? Then you don't have confidence that the staff can identify your child's strengths and weaknesses and that they will be unable to challenge your child. You under-estimate the teachers in that school. You also assume that all the kids at Connors are somehow lacking behind your child academically. That is a dangerous assumption. We forget that there are gifted and talented kids at Connors as well.

      I guarantee you that Connors will look like a different school 5, 10 and 15 years from now. And it'll be due to the progressive example of parents who are ready to call bull-shit and see for themselves what's happening at Connors and are ready to take part of the movement that's happening. You have every right to be cautious but I applaud all the downtown families who are seriously considering Connors and for the progressive movement they are forging. What a proud and exciting example they are setting for their kids!

    3. Great post, Anon 9:40. Thank you.

  17. Some parents don't think a standardized test can capture their own child's abilities and intelligence, much less that of a whole school. In fact, there have been many stories written about well to do suburban families who opt their children out of testing altogether because they don't see the educational value of testing period. Perhaps your wife missed this on the tour, but Connors came out of focus status due to consistent improvement in test scores, so their data is rising, as well. They would not be able to come out of focus status if they hadn't.

    Furthermore, it is important to highlight that there are serious limitations to using test scores as the *only* way to evaluate a school. There is a movement to design alternative measures to assess schools that are not based on standardized testing. Does a school offer arts programming? Does it address social emotional learning? Does it engage families? How diverse is it? Some people see the value in a diverse environment, especially given that we live in a global economy and being able to connect with individuals of various backgrounds is an absolute necessity for a successful career in today's day and age.

    At the end of the day, you are free to choose where to send your child to school. We have lots of choices in Hoboken. Some are choosing Connors and more will be joining in the fall. If you don't want to go there, good luck finding the right fit for your family. But the ones who are going there already and plan to in September would really appreciate it if you could refrain from denigrating the academic abilities of children who are not at liberty to defend themselves on a blog like this. It seems...petty to say the least.

  18. Standing Ovation for anon 9:34!


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