This week, I watched the recent Board of Education meeting where Gary, a union president and teacher who represents the school, publicly stated: “All charter school and private school parents do not attend public school because they don’t want to interact with Housing Authority kids” And to this person I would like to say: ‘Sir, it is you, and people who think like you, that influence the decision of many charter school parents not want to attend Hoboken public schools, not the color of the students’ skin or where they live.” Are there parents in this town who don’t want their kids around HHA kids? Sure. Does racism and discrimination still exist? Yes, and that remains a disappointing aspect of the human condition that Hoboken won’t solve.
But to make a statement, so broadly, to say you know what drives the decision of thousands of parents, is ignorant and simply untrue. In fact, I would counter that it is rather comments like yours, that type of thinking, that makes me and many others not want to send our kids to the public school. It is offensive and it is counter-productive to the problem we are all trying to solve. And this is why we have a great community, great families, and fabulous teachers, but a school that just can’t progress to the level of achievement the children deserve.
My children go to HoLa, because the idea of a bilingual education was exciting to me. In addition, like many I look at test performance and school ranking. No one should feel bad for wanting the best options for their child. To blame parents who go elsewhere, as a reason the public school isn’t getting better, is an excuse. It is the job of those hired to oversee and manage our schools to make it better first and then we come, not the other way around.
I don’t think HoLa is perfect, but I believe in general that the people making decisions for the school are working hard every day to make it a school of excellence, and when someone has expertise that they don’t have they welcome help and acknowledge mistakes and try to improve. And from the parents across demographics, the reason they are not happy with Hoboken public school is the undeniable school standing in the state and the feeling that those making decisions are not open to partnering with others who can help them improve, that there is so much negativity and dysfunction as a group they aren’t working together to take steps every day to make the school the best it can be. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great people in the school but as a working group, the results still don’t tell a great story and the behaviors do not convey confidence that it will get better enough for us to make this our choice.
I would love to send my children to Hoboken High, but I am not confident as of yet that we have the right group of people who are going to do what it takes, to put differences aside and just focus on creating and sustaining an enriched, challenging curriculum.
HoLa parent, Hoboken resident