HoLa! gets School Charter
If at first you don’t succeed, start your own school!
The women behind the HoLa dual language program that blew up on the Board of Ed launch pad have been given new clearance for take off… this time from the New Jersey State Department of Education. HoLa is now the basis for Hoboken’s third charter school. Instead of the “school within a school” administered through the Board of Ed, the new Hoboken Dual Language Charter School will be a separate operation funded by the state, and operating classrooms out of the Boys and Girls Club.
Room for up to 132 students in 2010
The determined women – (in)famously dubbed “The HoLa Girls” by former School Board member Frank “Pupie” Raia – applied and received permission to operate a “Spanish-English K-5 school” that will “open its doors in September 2010. The school will initially serve up to 132 students (depending on demand) in Kindergarten, First and Second grades. A grade will be added each year until the school extends to the Fifth grade, according to a press release from Jennifer Hindman Sargent, Camille Korschun Bustillo and Barbara Martinez:
“HoLa will offer a comprehensive curriculum delivered in both Spanish and English by teachers trained in innovative strategies specific to dual language education, with the goals of academic excellence and bilingualism for all students. The school will also feature an emphasis on the arts; a nurturing school community; and a multicultural perspective.
“We are thrilled that the Office of Charter Schools recognized both the value of dual language education for children of all language backgrounds, and the ideal fit of such a program for our dynamic and diverse community,” said Sargent. “We look forward to bringing a truly unique educational option to Hoboken.”… Program goals include academic excellence, bilingualism/biliteracy for all children, and an appreciation of other cultures.”
The tone of this release was a lot different from the parting shots they took at detractors last February.
Pressure on poll-trailing Corzine helps HoLa cause
HoLa was the beneficiary of a tremendous amount of election year pressure on Governor Jon Corzine, whose State Education Department has been criticized for doing everything it can to avoid awarding new charters. The powerful New Jersey Education Association teachers union is no fan, since charter school teachers are often non-union and charter schools often (but not always) perform much better than Public Schools, despite the fact that they take from the exact same base of public school students.
Maybe the “HoLa Girls” should thank Bob Bowdon?
Hoboken filmmaker Bob Bowdon’s documentary “The Cartel” exposed how the state is stingy with charters. The film puts a spotlight on a year when only
two were one was awarded, leaving applicants rejected with no explanation. The film includes interviews with two women who applied to start a Charter School in Jersey City. A slight typo in their business plan that had no effect on operations was enough to get rejected by the charter-averse, NJEA-influenced State Ed Department. After Bowdon started asking questions, the state softened its stance and ultimately awarded the charter.
The Cartel Movie also includes a moving segment filmed during a Newark charter school lottery where hundreds of students are tearfully denied access because of the state enrollment limits.
Bowdon’s film has been picking up awards at Film Festivals throughout New Jersey.
HoLa one of 8 NJ charters awarded this year
Eight is the largest number of new charters allowed since 1999. Under pressure from Republicans (and following screenings around the state of “The Cartel”) Governor Corzine directed the department of education to propose new regulations that would allow faster approval for certain applicants with experience running successful charter schools. One of the other new charter schools will teach Hebrew in East Brunswick while another in Plainfield is named for President Barack Obama.
A Charter School is a Public School
Charter schools are open to all public school students, but are limited in how many can be accepted. Charter schools receive a payment directly from the school district of residence for each enrolled student equal to 90 percent of the district school’s budget per student for the specific grade level. The district gets to keep 10 percent even though they aren’t teaching the student. Hoboken has two existing charter schools, Elysian Charter and Hoboken Charter.