Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Which Came First, The Charter Or The Philanthropy? Let's Ask Michael Steinhardt!

Another day, another ridiculous anonymous comment on my blog.  Here's the latest.
So is Mother Crusader willing to implement a law, declaring that non-charter public schools MAY NOT accept moneys that didn't come from their taxpayer allocation? Or is she merely jealous and envious because THOSE public schools DO NOT ATTRACT putting-your-money-where-your-mouth-is admiration.
This comment was left on my last post about Hatikvah International Academy Charter School, where I responded to an anonymous commenter who didn't seem to think Hatikvah was a "government" school.

I'd like to clarify something for my new anonymous friend.

Hatikvah didn't ATTRACT private money, it was CREATED by private money. Hatikvah is funded by the Hebrew Charter School Center (HCSC), and the HCSC is the brainchild of Michael Steinhardt. 

Steinhardt doesn't ADMIRE Hatikvah, he CREATED HATIKVAH! 

Allow me to explain. Steinhardt dumps the bulk of his money into the Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life.
Our philanthropy seeks to revitalize Jewish identity through educational and cultural initiatives that reach out to all Jews, with an emphasis on those who are on the margins of Jewish life, as well as to advocate for and support Hebrew and Jewish literacy among the general population.
Well, that's a pretty specific goal, isn't it?

And then Steinhardt's money shows up in places like the Areivim Philanthropic Group, which eventually trickles down to the Hebrew Charter School Center.
Quietly launched over the past year by the Areivim Philanthropic Group, a Jewish funding partnership established by Birthright Israel co-founder Steinhardt and the late William Davidson (whose estate Areivim is currently suing), the $3.2 million Hebrew Charter School Center is providing seed money and free consulting to aspiring Hebrew charter schools throughout the country. (emphasis mine)
Here is Areivim's mission statement.

Michael Steinhardt,
able to fund a Hebrew Charter with a single call!
And in case you still have any doubt about the specificity of Mr. Steinhardt's philanthropy, these are his own words in response to the question, "What drives your philanthropy?"
I don't want on my tombstone, "Michael Steinhardt was one of the world's greatest money managers." I had said to myself, when I stop managing other people's money that I wanted to be ennobling and virtuous, something that really helped some part of the world that was important to me. What was important to me was improving the Jewish future. (emphasis mine)
Clearly, Mr. Steinhardt's philanthropic giving has a specific purpose, and that purpose is firmly rooted in the Jewish religion.  And that is just fine. It's his money.

It only becomes a problem when it finally trickles down to the Hebrew Charter School Center, and we're supposed to believe that there is no religious intention behind his Hebrew Immersion charter schools!

Steinhardt is dumping millions into each school and he is spreading them all over the country.
With its $6 million annual budget and the backing of philanthropist Michael Steinhardt — Berman’s father — HCSC is exploring new locations in Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago and New York. The organization spends up to $3 million to open each school and bring it to self-sustainability — that is, running entirely on government money. Neither of its schools has reached that point, but Berman says the Brooklyn school will become self-sustaining for the upcoming school term, its fifth in operation. (emphasis mine)
It couldn't be any plainer that Mr. Steinhardt has a religious agenda. He uses his millions to develop, create and sustain the kind of schools HE wants to see, and then keeps them flush with cash until they can pay for themselves.

Oh right, except they don't pay for themselves. We, the taxpayers, pay for them.  What a charade!  

As usual, DIane Ravitch said it better than I ever could.
What’s wrong with Hebrew charter schools?
It violates the long-established principle of separation of church and state to spend public funds on an institution that promotes religion. Hebrew is not a neutral language. It is the historic language of the Jewish people. Judaism is a religion.
It asks taxpayers to bear responsibility for schools that are essentially religious. In effect, taxpayers are subsidizing families that have the freedom to choose a nonpublic religious school. If they want it, they should pay for it. Public responsibility is for public, secular schools.
It is an attack on the very principle of public education, which belongs to the entire community and should be open to all.
Where there is a demand for instruction in Hebrew, it can be taught in regular schools, which offer Spanish, French, Latin, German, and other world languages.
But no one is fooled by the pretense that a Hebrew school has no connection to the Jewish religion.
I write this as a Jew whose grandchildren (two of them) went to a Jewish day school. Let them thrive and flourish. But don’t call them public schools. If the Jewish community is unwilling to support Jewish education, don’t ask for public money to do it. It is a private communal responsibility. No subterfuge can hide that. (emphasis mine)
So there you have it my new anonymous friend. In answer to your question, no, I am not jealous. I'm ticked off that my kids' school has to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to a quasi religious school so that Michael Steinhardt can feel like a good guy after decades of greedily amassing a small fortune.

Steinhardt would never put his money into an actual public school. They can't support his goal of "improving the Jewish future." 
I know, we'll just keep telling them it's not a religious school!


  1. Are you arguing that any school that teaches hebrew is necessarily a Jewish school? If so, doesnt that suggest that any traditional public school teaching Hebrew, or for that matter any of the classical languages, is furthering religion?

    I dont think that follows as a school can teach Latin, Greek, Arabic or EVEN Hebrew as a language without crossing the church state line.

    Further, if you want to argue that Hatikvah is really a religious school, what facts do you (Or Diane Ravich) point to that would support such an accusation.

    The irony of course is that the hebrew language schools that did have such entanglement were those in Florida sponsored by Congressman Deutch, but which have nothing to do with the Steinhart program.

    And finally, is there a timeline that you can identify to show that Hatikvah was inspired by Steinhard as opposed to just being a part of a larger movment of the pro-israel community (much of which is not Jewish).

    1. I seriously don't understand why everyone has to be anonymous? Why not sign your name??

      No, I am not making that argument. My district now teaches Hebrew because this was a concession we offered to the founders of Tikun Olam when they were trying to open a charter here. There was no religious intent.

      I think I amply demonstrated what motivates Steinhardt's philanthropy. While Hatikvah may not teach religion during the school day, the INTENT behind the creation of such a school is clear.

      In addition, I will be posting more in the near future about the religious after school program Hatikvah parents have developed. It is well documented that for many parents it is the religious after school program that is the real draw. This has been written about many, many times.

      In my opinion there is not as much difference between the Ben Gamla and the HCSC charters as some might pretend. Again, I will post more about this in the near future.

      As for a timeline, HCSC and Steinhardt's daughter's Hebrew Language Academy (HLA) were both started in 2009, the same year Hatikvah applied for their charter. Hatikvah's application makes it clear that they were receiving assistance from HLA. It is not a mystery that Hatikvah and Tikun Olam were inspired by HLA and received start up assistance for HCSC.

      Some of this assistance may have come just before HCSC was actually formed, but I believe it was Steinhardt and Berman's (his daughter) influence that got those applications off the ground, and certainly that financed their opening and operations.

      I do appreciate the civil tone of your questions. Thank you.

  2. I do not think that the intent of Mr. Steinhart is as clear as you argue: If you read carefully what the documents cited say, his motivation seems to be as much a secular/cultural desire to propagate the knowledge of hebrew among the general population as much as anything religious. I think this could reasonably be so because while not stated in the documents you cite to, it is common knowledge that Steinhart himself is NOT religious (observant) and Jews generally do not proselytize. Therefore, his statement that he seeks to teach hebrew to jews and non jews in an effort to build affinity to Israel amoungst the general populatoin is a credible reading of his motivation behind the charter movement.
    This stands in stark contrast to other wealthy donors who give their money to specifcally to jewish religious education which by its construct ONLY reaches Jews. See for example Sanford Bernstein.

    I note that there is a common motivation in the Pro-Israel community to build knowlege, comfort and affinity toward Israel amongst the general population. Teaching modern hebrew is a component of this effort, but so too is the visiting scholar program that places artists in residence at major universities in the US that do not have large Jewish populations. See, Shusterman Visting Scholar Progam. Moreover, many in the pro israel community are not even jewish (and never intend to become so.)
    This is very similar to the French American Cultural Exchange which has been involved in the French language immersion schools in NYC.

    As to your timeline, you are making inferences, but are there specific facts you can point to support your argument that the Hatikvah school was inspired by HCSC? Consider that the Ben Gamla schools were opened in 2007 years before Hatikvah and their gestation period was well earlier still. Is it not possible that the the ideas were swirling around the pro israel community well before Steinhart got involved, but that the Hatikvah founders didnt have the critical mass to move forward before his support?

    1. Ok, sure, back to the timeline we go. Here are two articles which make mention of the start-up funding Hatikvah received from Areivim. Eventually I will publish details about the hundreds of thousands of dollars HCSC dumps into Hatikvah.

      "Hatikvah received start-up grants of $35,000 and $50,000 from Michael Steinhardt’s Areivim fund to help build a Hebrew charter school movement."

      Read more:


      "Hatikvah has received $50,000 to cover application costs and another $25,000 grant to cover start-up costs from the Hebrew Charter School Center of the Areivim Philanthropic Group. Launched by Jewish philanthropist Michael Steinhardt and the late William Davidson, Areivim provides seed money and free consulting to aspiring Hebrew-language charter schools throughout the country."

      Honestly, the rest of your argument regarding Steinhardt's intent seems like splitting hairs to me. His philanthropic goal is to "improve the Jewish future." How much clearer does it need to be? Just because other philanthropists give ONLY to jewish religious education, doesn't change Steinhardt's intention or the fact that these charters blur the church/state line.

      In addition, your argument may be stronger if Steinhardt wasn't throwing just as much money into religious after school programs, which are exclusively for the Jewish children who attend his Hebrew immersion charters. Hatikvah's religious after school program isn't mentioned at all on the Hatikvah website, even though it was created by Hatikvah parents exclusively for Hatikvah students, and the website for the religious after school program does not mention Hatikvah by name!

      What are the trying to hide?

      But again, I appreciate the civil tone of your questions, I just wish I knew who I was talking to.

    2. Dear Anonymous,

      Regardless of which came first, the school only opened with, and continued with, large amounts of money that came from the Steinhard Foundation for Jewish Life, (funneled through another organization, all of which share common board members and staff), and came with all of the strings that came attached to it. It's clear to any one who has witnessed Hatikvah's Board in action that Eli Schaap appears to make the decisions on school business, not the Board's chair who happens to be one of only a couple of parents on their Board. Mr. Schaap, who is also a Hatikvah board member himself, is also conveniently an employee of The Steinhardt Foundation and regularly reports back on Hatikvah business to other Steinhardt board members.

      I believe that if a traditional public school had that type of relationship with a funder, it would be considered pay to play.

      You shouldn't be able to buy your way into influencing tax-payer funded entities. Period.

  3. Thank you for responding to the comment: As to the timeline, the new clippings you referenced do not address the question. Which came first the chicken or the egg. There no debate that the Hatikvah school has support from HCSC. But it is not clear whether that support was the push for the founders, or whether the founders were working on this project and found support from like minded persons.

    It is quite common for people working on a project to seek grant support from funding sources who share common goals.

    With respect to intent it would appeart that there may be a similar diversion of opinon: you are reading the public statements and making infereces to support your point of view that is critical of charter schools. I look a the same sources and reach a very different conclusion.

    But looking into the history is really beside the point: the school is an ongoing concern and from pulic sources is very clear in how they adress the seperation issue, so does any of this disection of intent really matter?

    1. Here's what I know. Lots of language immersion schools have tried to get off the ground in the last five years. Most have failed. Shalom Academy, Tikun Olam, Princeton International Academy... While Tikun Olam got initial assistance from HCSC, once there was public backlash, they retreated and did not continue their assistance. HCSC never backed Shalom as far as I know. I don't know why. PIACS had no big money backers either, and also faced a big public backlash.

      My point is that without the support (mostly financial for lawyers and divisive, high paid PR people) the odds that Hatikvah would have weathered all the storms they have faced are not good.

      I think it does matter. The one thing they are NOT very up front about is the religious after school program, and this is where I have said I think the line is blurred. It's possible I'm wrong, but it is what I believe.

      Again, I appreciate the spirit of our discussion, but wish I could address you by name. I fail to see why you can't identify yourself. I never comment anonymously. I stand behind everything I say.

  4. I also disagree with the assertion that a founder's or philanthropist's intent somehow naturally results in violation of the separation of church and state. Despite all the hand wringing, I have yet to see one single example presented where any of these Hebrew Charter Schools have crossed the line.

    It is speech and deed that count. Unless followed by some specific culpable action, one's private or public intent/thoughts are irrelevant. You may not like their involvement in a public project because of their intent, but freedom of thought and speech are still guaranteed by the first amendment for rich and poor alike.

    1. Whether there is a direct violation of separation of church and state is almost less important than the idea that our public school system is being carved up into little niches. Mr. Steinhardt made it very clear that his philanthropy is meant to "improve the Jewish future" It's hard to ignore that he therefore only funds Hebrew immersion charters, and these charters all have religious after school programs. If language immersion was really the goal, why not fund charters around the country that focus on different languages? Can't imagine Mr. Steinhardt would be too interested, can you?

      Why not poll the parents of East Brunswick and the surrounding communities and see if there is a even a demand for an immersion school that taxpayers are willing to pay for? If he taxpayers do want a language immersion program, shouldn't they decide what language would be taught, not Mr. Steinhardt?

      I think the fact that Mr. Steinhardt has a specific agenda, and is able to create charters that siphon tax dollars from public schools to meet that agenda, is a disservice to the effected communities that do not have a significant interest in such a program.

      Clearly there is no overwhelming demand for this school, even in all of Middlesex county. Hatikvah can not fill its seats with students from East Brunswick, or the even from the surrounding districts. The school enrolls children from over 20 towns in more than five counties to meet enrollment, from districts as far flung as Manalapan and Teaneck.

      Unless the parents at Hatikvah would support immersion schools for the dozens and dozens of other languages that families in our communities speak, I fail to see how they justify the existence of a Hebrew immersion school.

      Clearly, the only reason the school exists at all is because there is a demi-billionaire with a penchant for the language, and the culture and religion it represents.

      It's hard to ignore that neither of my anonymous friends have addressed the religious after school program issue. Why the secrecy? Why isn't it prominently featured on the Hatikvah website? Why isn't Hatikvah named on the website of the religious after school program? If the after school program isn't blurring the line between church and state, why all the secrecy?

    2. Crusader, you need a reality check.
      HP Bartle Elementary School did not make AYP in 2011-2012
      Highland Park Middle School did not make AYP in 2011-2012
      Highland Park High School did not make AYP in 2011-2012.

      A real success story. Public schools fail to serve the neediest populations, barely serve the middle and typically bore the brightest kids. The biggest joke is the $$$ they spend on textbooks whose parent companies are starting "for profit" charters. Next time you get a cashier who can not make change of a dollar without the help of the register tell me how great public schools are. Go watch Jerry Spinger and tell me how great public schools are. Ask several hundred of your closest friends whose children have special needs how great the schools are. Go check out how many tutoring companies exist, to the tune of $$$, because our public schools are so effective.

      The failure of our current public education is evident in the chasm between the uber wealthy and the chronically impoverished, who have all had access to a public education - for over 100 years in NJ.

      Most graduates from public high schools need REMEDIAL classes once they enter college.Yes, if you are white and economically stable you have a good chance of getting a reasonably thorough education at the cost of around $15,000 a year. But do NOT be of color, poor or special needs and expect your schools to have your best interests at heart. Even in Highland Park.

      MC, just like all the Christian clubs that are allowed to exist in public schools, after school programs are held AFTER school, which not part of the school day, which is perfectly LEGAL.

      Crusader! Why would anyone who wants so desperately to be taken seriously associate themselves with that moniker referencing the Crusades? Hateful and ill informed. I'll be anonymous too.

    3. I'll happily respond to your hateful diatribe in a couple weeks. Right now I have a concussion and am unable to sort through the countless inaccuracies in your rant.

      If any of my readers would care to respond to this comment with some real facts about:

      1. The fact that the rampant poverty in this country creates an opportunity gap which people like anonymous use to beat up on the public schools

      2. The fact that children with significant special needs are far more likely to be served in a traditional public school and a charter school is far more likely to counsel them out.

      3. The myth created by NCLB that public schools nationwide are failing,

      please, feel free.

      Didn't want anyone to think I wasn't addressing this comment, I am just currently unable.


    4. 1. Rampant Poverty: Why hasn't access to public education for over 100 years NOT yet helped raise people out of poverty? If public schools are so highly effective, then WHY are so many Americans so poor? Our current system of education is not working.

      2. Wrong, children with significant special needs are most often served in OOD placement in private schools for children with special needs, which is part of IDEA and paid for by both the state and the district. The same district that would also be placing and paying the child in OOD. Using the same taxpayers money- it's not the district's money, it's the taxpayer's money.

      Parents do not make educational choices to balance the special ed percentages for school enrollment counts. Parents of special needs children have to make choices that are best suited to their particular children's academic needs. Not as many special education parents CHOOSE charters for their kids. Which is their right to choose.

      3. Deflected! NCLB is a national policy- NJ was recently given a waiver to parts of NCLB . I cited your OWN district's information. Three out of four schools in Highland Park can not pass the MINIMUM standard!! You should be crusading right there, since those who did not make AYP were poor, special ed or black and hispanic children! Yes I noticed HP schools failed to adequately serve their poor, black, hispanic or special ed population as well as they serve the white kids. Ouch.

      Parents in ANY zip code should be able to choose the best school for their children. The money should follow the child.

      Hateful rants eh? Diatribe? Not quite. My information is accurate and well presented, certainly not a rant. You call yourself a CRUSADER. The Crusades were a series of wars based on HATE. When I die I will not be explaining to St Peter how I tied myself to a hateful name like "crusader" and tried to destroy and defame a minister of a church! I will pray for you.

    5. Again, I have a concussion and am not on my game. Here's some quick thoughts.

      1. Read this:

      “The structural basis for failure in inner-city schools is political, economic and cultural, and must be changed before meaningful school improvement projects can be successfully implemented,” she wrote in a 1995 article in the journal Teachers College Record. “Educational reforms cannot compensate for the ravages of society.”

      2. OOD placements are paid for by district schools, and only for the most severe cases. The majority of children with disabilities that do not qualify for ODD are in public schools. Only students with the most mild disabilities end up in charters, and many who are enrolled in charters are then counseled out. Most parents of students with children with disabilities do not choose charters because they are not equipped to handle children with disabilities. There are some charters that specifically target at risk students, dropouts, etc, but those are few and far between,

      3. I'm well aware of the waiver, and have written about it.

      3. YOU are the one who quoted AYP at ME. AYP is NCLB. Read this:

      "Last year, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that 82 percent of our nation's schools would fail to make "adequate yearly progress." A few weeks ago, the Center for Education Policy reported that the secretary's estimate was overstated, and that it was "only" half the nation's schools that would be considered failing as of this year. Secretary Duncan's judgment may have been off the mark this year, but NCLB guarantees that the number of failing schools will grow every year. If the law remains intact, we can reasonably expect that nearly every public school in the United States will be labeled as a failing school by 2014.

      If you take a closer look at the CEP study, you can see how absurd the law is. In Massachusetts, the nation's highest-performing state by far on NAEP, 81 percent of the schools failed to make AYP. But in lower-performing Louisiana, only 22 percent of the schools did not make AYP.

      Yet, when you compare the same two states on NAEP, 51 percent of 4th graders in Massachusetts are rated proficient, compared with 23 percent in Louisiana. In 8th grade, again, twice as many students in Massachusetts are proficient compared with Louisiana, yet Massachusetts has nearly four times as many allegedly "failing" schools! This is crazy."

      I'm sorry, your information is wildly inaccurate and hysterical.

      You can continue with your bizarre attacks against my nom de plume, but even Merriam-Webster seems to think the term is appropriate for what I do.


      "Examples of CRUSADE

      a grassroots crusade for spending more money on our public schools"

      Huh, what are the odds that would be one of their examples?

      Please, don't pray for me. I am quite proud of the work I do.

    6. To Anon 9/25 @ 3:27:

      I believe you are incorrect in your assumptions about “Separation of Church” violations. My understanding is that demonstrating intent or purpose is one third of what is required to demonstrate violations via “Lemon Test.” (The Lemon test is an enduring test for whether a statute or a practice violates the Establishment Clause was set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Lemon v. Kurtzmann, 403 US 602, 612-613 (1971).

    7. Anonymous, I find it quite curious that you have decided to hide behind your anonymity to wage your continued attacks on Ms. Cirmarusti. It makes me wonder what your motivation is and what you hope to accomplish with your attacks. If you hope to convince the readers of this blog that what you say is correct, then you immediately invalidate your arguments because it says to me that by not revealing to us who you are that you have something to hide. I then start wondering who you are. Which then makes me speculate: are you part of the NJ Charter Association; a member of an education “reform” think tank who is paid the respond to these type of blogs; or maybe you are simply a zealot who has appointed themselves “savior” of your movement?. Let me set the example for you and start with my name; it’s Rita McClellan. Maybe you will find the guts to follow my example and reveal yours. Until you do so, I will refer to you as “Zealot.”

      Crusaders come in many shapes and forms; they can be both good and bad. In Ms. Cimarusti’s case the correct definition would be “a person who campaigns vigorously for political, social, or religious change; a campaigner” and not “a fighter in the medieval Crusades” that you referenced in your comments. To say what you did, insults the intelligence of this blog’s readers. Because I am a working mom, I have to go to work. But make no mistake in assuming that I won’t response to the questions you posed on this blog, I intend to do so in the next few days. So get your keyboard ready to respond to me.

    8. Massachusetts School Choice
      "The school choice program allows parents to send their children to schools in communities other than the city or town in which they reside. Tuition is paid by the sending district to the receiving district. Districts may elect not to enroll school choice students if no space is available."
      In Cambridge, almost 90 percent of black, Hispanic, and low-income students graduate in four years, some 20 to 30 percentage points higher than comparable groups statewide.

  5. Anon:

    "1. Rampant Poverty: Why hasn't access to public education for over 100 years NOT yet helped raise people out of poverty? If public schools are so highly effective, then WHY are so many Americans so poor? Our current system of education is not working."

    The reason public education hasn't fixed poverty is because THAT'S NOT ITS JOB.

    "2. Wrong, children with significant special needs are most often served in OOD placement in private schools for children with special needs, which is part of IDEA and paid for by both the state and the district. The same district that would also be placing and paying the child in OOD. Using the same taxpayers money- it's not the district's money, it's the taxpayer's money."

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. Far more children with special needs are served in public schools than in charters. Only the most extreme cases are placed OOD. And if it's "the taxpayers' money," why is the charter parent (who is often seeking a boutique education) the only one who gets to "choose" how it is spent? Why should the taxpayers of East Brunswick or Highland Park or any town be FORCED to subsidize a parent's whims with no say in how "their" money is being spent?

    "3. Deflected! NCLB is a national policy- NJ was recently given a waiver to parts of NCLB . I cited your OWN district's information. Three out of four schools in Highland Park can not pass the MINIMUM standard!! You should be crusading right there, since those who did not make AYP were poor, special ed or black and hispanic children! Yes I noticed HP schools failed to adequately serve their poor, black, hispanic or special ed population as well as they serve the white kids. Ouch."

    NCLB is a stupid law that sets an unattainable standard. Even the neo-con Obama administration acknowledges this, which is why they provided the waivers... IF a state, among other things, buys into their charter fetish.

    "Parents in ANY zip code should be able to choose the best school for their children. The money should follow the child."

    Again: you want it both ways. You insist it's the "taxpayers'" money, but you want ONLY the few parents who "choose" charters to have a say in how it is spent. And they don't even have that, given the low level of transparency and accountability the state asks from charters.

    Since you are so moral, how about we stop bearing false witness, put our cards on the table and say what this is really all about: people want the state to pay for the segregation of their children. Maybe it's segregation by ethnicity, or segregation by educational whim, or segregation by behavior -- but it's segregation all the same.

    I'd have much more respect for the charter cheerleaders if they'd admit this simple truth.

    1. The inescapable fact is that charter schools tend to be less diverse than public schools, at a time where America is MORE diverse. As a teacher for thirty years at Bronx HS Science and some terrible inner city schools, I would love to throw the disruptive jerks out and teach the kids whose parents are involved. (90% of charter enrollees) I would welcome money for computers and new books and smartboards. However, if the people who vote and have power have their kids in private or charter schools e.g. Gov Christie, they have little incentive to raise taxes to fund the Public schools with 80-90% of the high needs=expensive kids. However, they will fund prison for them when they drop out at 16 and have no job or life prospects! Similarly, education conducted by a religion after school or on Saturday or Sunday is fine. During the week you get the well known problems with sex education, birth control etc. Similarly, could any teacher in a Hebrew school touch on the plight of the Palestinians in a civics class without getting stoned or lynched? It is ironic that 49 years after Goodman and Schwerner died in Mississippi for integration some Jewish leaders want to re-segregate!! I write as a Jewish educator who believes we are all in this together!

  6. Don't allow Anonymous to veer this far off topic. It's pure deflection, and a tired tactic by privatization ideologues. Whenever anyone makes a succinct argument, they go off topic and start sputtering words like "choice," "government," and "ranking.

    I think Anonymous's deflection validates your argument, Darcie!

    Or, Does Anon think we should turn a blind eye to the misuse of public funds as long as a handful of children (not all) might find a way into a school that may or may not have a higher AYP?

  7. "The reason public education hasn't fixed poverty is because THAT'S NOT ITS JOB. "
    Oh goodness, ALL CAPS! Well then I must ask you, what exactly is public education's job? After 100 + years of public education, you might hope our well educated populace would be a bit better off than they are now... So, if public education's job is not leading our country to a place where NO children live in poverty, then what IS the outcome are we hoping for from public education?

    #2 KEYWORD: "SIGNIFICANT" As in: kids with SIGNIFICANT special needs are most often served in OOD placement in private schools for children with special needs.

    Regarding our special ed kids, just look at the money parents and districts spend when parents sue school districts TRYING to get their child the thorough and efficient free and appropriate education our constitution guarantees! I know parents who were so disgusted with the quality of services that they pulled their kids out of blue ribbon schools.

    I know others who have gone to great lengths to raise awareness of how special needs kids are treated right here in NJ public schools: What did the Cherry Hill School District do? That's right, protect the teacher, protect the system, they did NOT protect the child until Mr. Chaifetz went public...

    Aiken Chaifetz deserves better.
    Public education in NJ has a LONG way to go still..
    Special education in NJ has a longer way to go.
    See below for Hghland Park outcomes 2011-2012

    3. Hello, NJ public schools are ALREADY segregated - by ZIP codes.
    NJ kids do not go to a school based on their particular learning style.
    NJ kids do not go to a specific school based on their academic progress.
    NJ kids DO go to school based upon their ZIP codes.

    So just for fun, let's look at Highland Park Middle School for their latest academic outcomes:

    72% of Highland Park Middle School 7th grade economically disadvantaged students can NOT pass the minimum for Math. Looks like this school is missing some benchmarks here...

    75% of Highland Park Middle School 7th grade black students can NOT pass the minimum for Math. Is that OK with you??

    44% of the entire Highland Park Middle School 7th grade is not proficient in math! Schoolwide!! Yes let's keep doing exactly what we are doing now eh??

    53% of Highland Park Middle School students w/ disability can NOT pass the minimum standard for - Language Arts Literacy Grade Level 6. Uh oh...

    37% of Highland Park Middle School economically disadvantaged students can NOT pass the minimum standard for - Language Arts Literacy Grade Level 6. That's 1 out of every 3 kids!

    22% of Highland Park Middle School students who are Hispanic can NOT pass the minimum standard for - Language Arts Literacy Grade Level 6...Dios mío!!

    54% of Highland Park Middle School students w/ disability can NOT pass the minimum standard for - Language Arts Literacy Grade Level 7... Yikes!!

    47% of Highland Park Middle School economically disadvantaged students can NOT pass the minimum standard for - Language Arts Literacy Grade Level 7... bummer.

    46% of Highland Park Middle School Hispanic students can NOT pass the minimum standard for - Language Arts Literacy Grade Level 7...

    50% of Highland Park Middle School black students can NOT pass the minimum standard for - Language Arts Literacy Grade Level 7... sorry kid...

    The facts stand:
    NJ public schools - even in "good" districts - fail to adequately serve their poor, black, hispanic, ELL or special ed population as well as they serve the white kids.

    Darcie, you may want to research this information so you can decide where your children can have the best middle school educational experience possible.

    And to those who need my name:
    My name is Citizen.
    My name is Taxpayer.
    My name is Parent.
    If you don't like "anonymous", then close your comment section.

    1. I love my kids' school, and I love it specifically because it is diverse.

      HP test scores show an "achievement gap" because we have an incredibly diverse population, with over 50 languages spoken in the homes of our students. We have a lot of English language learners from countries all over the world. My daughters have had kids dropped into their class mid year that have NO ENGLISH SKILLS and have just arrived from countries as far flung as Korea, Hungary and China. That experience has been priceless to them, and can not be measured on a standardized test.

      And guess what? Those kids need more services, and will cost more to educate.

      And guess what else, those kids WILL NOT be dropped into a charter school mid year because enrollment is limited to X number of kids and they don't HAVE to take any more. Not to mention the fact that a family of recent immigrants is unlikely to even know what the heck a charter school is, or to fill out the lengthy application

      A public school takes whoever shows up on their doorstep, no matter where they are from, no matter what their background, and tries to do their best with all of them. Are public schools perfect? No. But people like you who run around defaming them at every turn do our entire country a disservice.

      The only chance we have to make public education work is for the PUBLIC to work together to make them as successful as possible.

      You can keep you percentages and your secretly tapped videos. I know that the teachers and administrators in my daughters' schools all show up every day to try to help kids learn. I won't blame them for the ills of society, the ravages of poverty or because of a "tiny percentage" of teachers or aides that are verbally abusive to children. (By the way, the "tiny percentage" part is from the father who made the tape...

      And finally, you may want to so some reading on standardized testing and the use of cut scores.

      I have heard superintendents who worked in this state for decades speak of how the cut scores have been manipulated over the years so that just enough of the white kids pass, and just enough of the black and brown kids fail... just food for thought.

      So you can some onto my blog every day and try to make your case that public schools are failing. That is your right. But I can't imagine you will convert any of my readers, and you sure won't bother me.

      Have a great day.

      PS. Are you really audacious enough to call me by name and question where I send my children to school while you hide behind anonymity?

  8. So, let's compare the academic results:
    1. Hatikvah Charter:
    12% special ed, using the lottery system of enrollment
    100% of students school wide passed math (50% advanced proficient)
    2. Highland Park Traditional Public Schools
    14% special ed, NOT using the lottery system of enrollment
    73% of students school wide passed math (5% advanced proficient)
    How about the costs??
    #1. The Charter
    Total Spending Per Pupil
    2010-11 Costs Amount per Pupil: $14,122
    2011-12 Costs Amount per Pupil: $12,611

    #2 Highland Park Traditional Public Schools
    2010-11 Costs Amount per Pupil: $20,120
    2011-12 Costs Amount per Pupil: $20,172

    Maybe the Crusader can explain how Highland Park Public Schools are so much more expensive but produce worse results?

    1. Gosh, you folks are unreal. I can explain it, and in the most basic terms possible. First, Hatikvah is an ELEMENTARY SCHOOL with less than 200 kids. Elementary school students are LESS EXPENSIVE to educate. All spending is broken down K-5, 6-8, 9-12.

      Here's a breakdown from the STATE, that puts HP K-5 spending at 13,526 and EB K-5 spending at 12,702.

      Huh, so Hatikvah spends just about the same as it's host district.

      And this is just the money from the state. This does not factor in the hundreds of thousands of dollars HCSC funnels into that school, and the millions of dollars Avery Eisenreich used to buy them a warehouse.

      See my comment above about the student demographics in my district. Here's the demographics at Hatikvah.

      The most commonly spoken language in homes of the students other than English. Yeah, that would be Hebrew...

      Regarding the special ed percentages, I suggest you read Professor Bruce Baker, who has made it painfully clear that charters tend to enroll students with less severe disabilities, leaving students with more severe disabilities in the public schools (and yes, the MOST severe in OOD placements with the district footing the bill - never the charter)

      From Dr. Baker:

      "In short, charter schools in NJ serve about 1.7% of the population.

      They serve about 1.05% of the population of children with disabilities.


      they serve only about .23% of the population of children with disabilities other than Specific Learning Disability or Speech/Language Impairment!

      That’s a big deal! It’s a big deal because this leaves behind significant numbers of high need disability children to be served by districts. And, to the extent that charter expansion follows the same trend, this will lead to even greater concentration of children with disabilities in general in district schools and children with more severe disabilities in particular."

      I'm sorry, what was your point again?

      Thanks for stopping by.

    2. What was my point? ALL parents in ALL zip codes should be able to choose the appropriate school for their child's academic needs.

      FACT CHECK!!
      Language Diversity, according to the DOE:
      HP Bartle reports 68.8% of homes have English as the main language.
      Hatikvah reports 71% of homes are English as the main language.
      Nice try!

      You say "The most commonly spoken language in homes of the students other than English. Yeah, that would be Hebrew..."

      Yeah. I'm going to ignore the overtones and guess you are unaware that language is stored in a separate part of the brain if it is acquired before the age of 7 years. Yeah.

      FACT CHECK - Special Ed:
      HP reports 14% Special Ed
      Hatikvah reports 12% Special Ed, using a lottery system.

      Regarding Special Ed you say "the district footing the bill - never the charter" It is the TAXPAYERS money, not the district's. You act like the district has it's own money. It does not. It has the TAXPAYER'S money.

      POP QUIZ!! Is $13,114 MORE than $12,611 or is it the same?
      You say Hatikvah spends "just about the same" as it's host district?
      If the per pupil costs of HP = $13,526 and EB = $12,702 then the average is $13,114 per pupil. The charter spends LESS at $12,611 per pupil.

      Wouldn't it be fun if our taxes were LESS?

      If the money followed the student, you could choose to send you kids to a school that spends more but achieves less. I might make another choice.

    3. Since you are dedicating so much time to my blog, and I'm pretty accustomed to your voice now, I'm going to give you your own moniker.

      So, POP QUIZ!!, on to your FACT CHECKS!!

      re: Language

      Not sure what you think those DOE %s mean. They don't address any of the points made above. And there were no "overtones" to the fact that Hebrew is the most common language spoken by children at Hatikvah other than English (that came from Hatikvah's website). It just shows that Hatikvah is segregating children based on language preference. Simple.

      Thanks for the non sequitur about language acquisition...

      re: Special Ed

      You did not respond to any of my points regarding the severity of special ed diagnosis, based on actual research, not just your CAPITALIZED RAMBLINGS!!

      Your arguments about the TAXPAYERS money are so circular. Let me see if I have it straight. When the money goes to the district it still belongs to the TAXPAYERS, but when it goes to a charter it follows the child and belongs to the parents to choose where it goes? Is that correct?

      And don't twist my words. What I mean by the district footing the bill is that OOD placements can cause upwards of $50,000. That money comes out of the district budget and can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. A charter will never serve those children and will never incur that expense. It doesn't take an accounting degree to understand that this will raise the cost per pupil for a district school higher than the cost per pupil at a charter. That was my point.

      re: Host district.

      EB is the host district for Hatikvah, not HP. I was comparing EB's per pupil of 12,702 to Hatikvah's of 12,611.

      So where exactly is that 10% you keep talking about that the district gets to pocket?

      HP's per pupil expense is irrelevant to the discussion. Hatikvah was approved to serve EB and EB only. It is because Hatikvah can only fill 57% of their seats with students from East Brunswick that HP is impacted at all. If there was an actual demand for this school in the ONLY district it was approved to serve, we wouldn't be having this debate. The other 43% of the students, as of last year, are drawn from 17 neighboring towns. One of the districts, Toms River, is 49 miles away!

      HP, up until last year when Christie lured districts into moving elections to November and sticking to a 2% cap, approved our school budget every year. Exactly how do you have the authority to say we spend too much when they TAXPAYERS of this town have approved the expense?

      I'm growing weary of your poorly presented, FACT!!less arguments, POP QUIZ!!

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