A profile in courage
Dec 22, 2013 | 732 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Dear Editor:

Superintendent Toback has drafted an impact statement letter to the NJ State Commissioner assessing the impact to the Hoboken School District that would result from the proposed expansion of the Hola Hoboken Dual Language Charter School. The proposed impact statement generated considerable discussion at the Hoboken Board of Education meeting. Many parents of Hola students testified that if the expansion were not approved they would move from Hoboken. Recently, one parent wrote in to the Reporter suggesting that “Hola is a reason to move to Hoboken and to stay in Hoboken.” This is a further endorsement of the Hola program, which Hola parents hold in the highest regard. Throughout the dialogue on this subject, there was no mention of how the program could be expanded and integrated into the Hoboken School District. One of the major points that parents have made is the advantage of children being bilingual in a world that is increasingly competitive. Certainly, this is true, but perhaps the students would be better served by being bilingual in Chinese, Hindi, Brazilian Portuguese, or Russian. There are only two Spanish speaking nations that are members of the G20, and they are relatively small players in the group.

The salient point of the superintendent’s proposed letter is that the expansion of the Hola program would exacerbate the current situation of the Hoboken School District. The Hoboken Board of Education has significant challenges such as trying to educate many children who are socio-economically disadvantaged. The socio-economic differences and ethnic composition between Hoboken School District children and the Hola school children are significant. Parents try to secure the best possible advantages for their children, and rightfully so. The difficulty here in Hoboken is that the expenditures on education are high and the results are not good. The Superintendent is taking a courageous position. The division in the community is not a welcome development. If bilingual education is the primary reason why Hola parents chose Hola over Hoboken School District schools, isn’t there some way of converting the Hola bilingual program into a program offered to all of the students in Hoboken?

Michael Fischetti

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