Disappointed by Board of Education’s decision
Apr 27, 2014 | 2711 views | 4 4 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

A former Kids First supporter, I am particularly disappointed by the Hoboken Board of Education’s decision to ‘go to the wall’ in continuing to oppose my son Luke and his classmates at HoLA. I had believed Dr. Gold’s and the Board’s fervent opposition to have been based on principle. However, with recently divisive language and prosecution of the taxpayer-funded lawsuit challenging the state’s granting of HoLA’s charter expansion, their crusade has taken a vindictive tone.

Dr. Gold seems to have given his blessing to the other two charter schools in town, but decided to draw the line on HoLA. Referencing “segregation” and “white flight”, the community leaders who have fought so fervently against our lottery-based, public school have inserted unnecessary rancor into the debate.

I find it ironic that implications of racism are being raised against me and my wife for our decision to enroll our sons in a Spanish-bilingual school whose multicultural mission should be celebrated by all. It seems disingenuous to criticize HoLA when its student population more closely represents community demographics than do some of the district’s own elementary schools.

It is unfair to obstruct the growth of our successful school which needed to go the charter route only because the Board rejected the bilingual program as part of their district just a handful of years ago.

I hope that, when the time comes, Hoboken High will be a viable option for Luke and his brother Jake. I hope, regardless of the ultimate outcome of this legal action, community leaders will carefully consider the atmosphere they create in our city so as to not infect our young people with the animosity that seems to have affected some adult advocates. And I ask Dr. Gold and the Board to move on. Let it go.

Jim O’Brien

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May 23, 2014
Wow. Some strong judgments seem to have been made about me based upon the enrollment of my son at a particular school and my one letter in support of that school. Jeez … I hope some of them are wrong. : )

I only ask that my sons are not similarly judged due to their parents’ choice of school for them.

And Mary - I know there are a lot of great kids and opportunities at Hoboken High (as there are at all our town’s schools), and certainly recognize the dedication of teachers and staff there. Unfortunately, as my older son is just finishing second grade, he’s got a bit of time before getting to benefit from them.

Have a good weekend!

Jim O’Brien

April 27, 2014
If any of these parents saw the segregation statistics between our Hoboken schools in say Cape Town, South Africa these same parents would be yelling Apartheid! I hate all these fake reformer politicians that all end up on the same side for VOTES. I have to wonder about Zimmer, Mello and Bhalla on the same side of an issue as Carmelo Garcia, Ruben Ramos, Stick Romano, Beth Mason, the Russos etc. Shame on all of you. At least Ramos and Garcia kids are in HoLa so they at least are supporting it because they use it, the rest are just doing it for votes and that stinks because it means this town is for sale to loudest self interest group no matter how small.

And by the way, JIM, the HS has turned into a vibrant learning community for a beautiful URBAN mix of kids from many different backgrounds. A great kid with a free mind that doesn't judge others by the price of their jeans or size of their house will have a great experience there TODAY.
April 27, 2014
I’m consistently amazed by the narcissism that permeates the charter school crowd’s mentality. For chrissake, Jim, are you so full of this narcissism that you don’t realize that this is not an attack on YOUR son and HIS classmates. Hate to break it to you, but YOUR son may be the center of YOUR universe, but this is not about HIM or HIS classmates. This is about the ENTIRE public school system and the ENTIRE community.

What’s even more amazing is that this charter school crowd does not seem to understand that their attitude (me first! it’s all about me! forget everyone else, I’m gonna get mine! Mine!) is what is really divisive. Finally, we have leaders that bravely stood up for the rest of us and called it like it is. Hola is a taxpayer funded school that duplicates existing services and we cannot afford it (or the segregative effect that it exacerbates.) WE don’t want to be squeezed so that 100 people can have their taxpayer funded private school at the expense of the other 49,900 residents and the children of the public school district.

This is ‘white flight’ or, can you answer the question – when was the last time you invited one of the moms from the housing authority over to your place for drinks? Or, when was the last time you traded babysitting time with anyone from the housing authority? By the way, how many times did you contribute $100 or more to a Hola fundraiser and, did it ever occur to you that $100 fundraisers might be intimidating to people that can’t buy their kids $100 sneakers which may be a reason they are reluctant to participate in the lottery system? Why put their kids in a situation where the economic disparity is on parade? Nah, no way you thought that one through….and, not thinking that one through is a type of racism that surrounds classism.

But, perhaps most amazing of all is that this charter crowd (Jim included) seem to be unwilling or unable to understand and comprehend that the requisite demographic in this equation is the demographic of the school population NOT Hoboken’s population demographic. How many times is this charter crowd going to reference Hoboken’s demographic when that isn’t the point? Perhaps they’d have more credibility if they would, at least, acknowledge that Hola (and the other charters) do not reflect the demographic that they are supposed to reflect. It would, at least, be a starting point, wouldn’t it?

You want to know what I hope, Jim? I hope that someday the charter crowd at Hola will admit that they enrolled their kid(s) in a school that went only to the 5th (6th) grade and they have no right to expect that the taxpayers will fund any additional grades and that they should have had an alternative plan for the 7th/8th grades when they first enrolled their kids there other than demanding more funding from the rest of us.

Thank God the BoE has the courage to stand up for the majority of the people living in this community instead of pandering to a small minority. I hope that they prevail.

April 27, 2014

Was coming on to say the same thing but you did it much more eloquently then I could have.

Mr. O'Brien please do yourself, your family, and our community a big favor, and really read and think about Mr. Algernon's comments. What he says is absolutely true. When I first read your letter I thought it might have been a parody of a typical self-involved entitled parent. Unfortunately, it's not.