HoLa! is back on agenda!

2/11/2009 Update:

The controversial HoLa! Dual Language Program seems to be stymied for quite a while…

hoboken hola rejected - HoLa! is back on agenda!

Adios Hola!

Months of debate over the controversial HoLa dual-language immersion program came to an end last night. Once again hours were spent debating the merits with proponents who were once poised to get a $150,000 contract to run it facing off with parents and taxpayers who saw it as a boondoggle the troubled district could not afford. Many speakers expressed outrage that Hoboken students failed mandated tests in the middle grades again this year, forcing the district to take action to act under the “No Child Left Behind” mandates. Parent and taxpayer Ruth McCallister summed it up for many when she said, “The children that we have to worry about are the children who are failing now.”

Contract rescinded, and backup plan rejected

The board voted together to rescind the contract awarded to the parents trustee Frank Raia referred to as “The HoLa Girls.” The contract was deemed improper, but district proponents of the HoLa program (Raia, Carmelo Garcia and Superintendent Jack Raslowsky) attempted to have the board direct the administration to start HoLa anyway.

hoboken board of education jack raslowsky carrie gilliard theresa minutillo - HoLa! is back on agenda!

Only 7 votes were available because the board unanimously decided not to fill the seat vacated by Freeholder Anthony Romano so close to the April election, and freshman trustee Phil DeFalco was absent.

James Farina casts the deciding no vote

That HoLa redux resolution failed by a surprising 4-3 vote at the hands of Jim Farina, the longest-serving member of the board. Farina (also the City Clerk) said, “This board is going to have to rip cuts out of the budget” in order to win voter approval for the spending plan. He added that the money to be spent on HoLa will be needed for basic instructional costs in the new budget, and if they were not prudent the budget would fail. Under that circumstance it would go to the City Council for cuts, and Farina was concerned it would then come under the jurisdiction of State Fiscal Monitor Judy Tripodi. “She’ll cut it down to the bare bones,” said Farina, as he voted no on HoLa.

At that point, all the other votes were moot

By alphabetical order Farina was the first to vote, and his surprise decision to vote no meant instant defeat for those counting on him to join Raia, Garcia, and Rhodes-Kearns in favor of the program. Carrie Gilliard, Rose Markle and Theresa Minutillo voted no. When the results were read by Board Secretary David Anthony, there was no applause from the crowd. A sadness and realization that Hoboken’s schools have too many failing classes to responsibly consider HoLa left no one in the mood to celebrate.


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2/10/2009 Update:

Received a couple emails regarding the HoLa Dual Language program over the weekend….

All white kids?

hoboken hola white kids - HoLa! is back on agenda!“There will be a vote at the BOE meeting on the HoLa program this Tuesday. The HoLa parents held another gathering last Saturday. After attending several HoLa “reachouts,” it’s always the same group of predominantly white faces supporting this program. I first noticed it at the November 18 BOE meeting when it was introduced, their HoLa private email-invitation-only meeting, and their two-reachouts at the Jubilee Center and Boys and Girls club. They’re predominantly white and the sign-in sheets reflect their affluent addresses. They are NOT marketing this program to the hispanic, black, and low-income demographics in Hoboken.

The photo in the Hoboken Reporter further confirms their target market. Could you please add this photo?”

HoLa is a boondoggle…

Another Hoboken411 reader sent this note from a professor from Montclair State University:

“I have been a professor of Education at Montclair State University for many years. I headed teacher training and evalutation programs.

The evidence on bi-lingual education for children, is that it is best to get them to function in the prime learning language, English, as soon as possible. Prolonging the bi-lingual process in an impediment to their gaining facility in English. It may be necessary to have some bi-lingual classes in the early grades if the home language is not English, but they should be
used as little as possible. This is also true in upper grades. Transferring to completely English classes, as soon as possible, is best for the child. In my opinion, the elaborate Hola project is a boondoggle for some English as a second language teachers who cannot find posiitons in other school districts that are eliminating such elaborate programs. Hoboken, taxpayers are being used as ill informed fools in this process.

Arline J. Lederman, Ph.D

More below…

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A concerned Hoboken411 reader has this to say about the ongoing HoLa! Dual Language Program debate:

Is this a “backroom arrangement?”

hola hoboken logo - HoLa! is back on agenda!“Dear 411,

The HoLa folks have been laying low since the Jan. 13th BoE meeting; now we know why. They have been squiring various members of the BoE administration on field trips and keeping their HoLa dreams alive:
(posted on 411 by poed)

  • “Tuesday, Feb.3, Dr Petrosino will be going to PS 75 in Manhattan to view a Language program with Hola instead of attending the Hoboken BoE Staff Development Day.”
  • “The Asst. Superintendant is going to view a Language program with Hola this morning (PS 75M) and Ms Rhodes Kearns went to visit a program with Hola, last week. This seems to be far from over. I think they may be waiting for people to forget about Hola and then pass it while no one is looking. The BoE is following in the City’s footsteps. More hires, more materials, more money.”

Now, a “source” has found the following will be on the Feb. 10 BoE agenda:

  • “Board Rescission of previous Resolutions #20A and B from the November 18, 2008 meeting regarding “Hola” consulting contract and funding.”
  • “Authorization of Superintendent to plan for the establishment of an English-Spanish dual language program as recommended by the Program committee.”

Yes, the “Program Committee” (Frank Raia and Carmelo Garcia) are recommending the establishment of the HoLa! program for September 2009!!!

Without addressing a single concern expressed buy the multitude of parents at the previous 3 meetings! They are launching this new program in the middle of a budget crisis, massive tax increases and taxpayer revolt, not to mention ignoring all the valid concerns raised by the parents whose children are currently enrolled in the public schools and want those resources directed to improving existing programs and the high school.

Can you please open a thread on this? Word must get out so that the many members of the community who are opposed to HoLa! know that this backroom arrangement is happening right under their noses, and so they can respond properly to the BoE.

Thank you,
A concerned parent

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Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:41 am

If there had been actual research to prove that HOLA was the best program out there for this district’s kids, if it had been advanced by the Superintendent and BOE versus a group of a parents, if I had seen any evidence WHATSOEVER of true ethnic, racial and (especially) economic diversity in terms of supporters of the program, if it had a well thought out budget and management plan, maybe HOLA could have come close to approaching what would have been needed to become a charter or private school. Why should our public schools be held to lesser standards when they are launching an initiative that will not only cost money but in fact affect young children’s lives and futures. You have to have a strategic vision and realistic budget before the state will grant you a charter to start a new school, and you have to have even more than that before people will pay to send their children to your school. You can’t just do a bit of research and visit and few schools and decide that something is worth doing when it affects dozens of children’s lives! Do our district’s children really deserve a program designed with less rigor than a charter schools’? Is that all they deserve in a school system already in crisis?

Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:07 am

[quote comment=”135590″][quote comment=”135561″]The only accomplishments this man has made is to FAIL our middle schools, perpetuate low SAT scores, bloat the budget and anger it’s constituents. It is time for the board members to fire Raslowski before he does more damage to our schools.[/quote]

I second this motion, let’s get rid of this arrogant and incompetent superintendent.[/quote]
Well this should be **I hope** easy to do, provided we get the BoE. We don’t owe this guy anything, we can simply let his contract expire.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:06 am

[quote comment=”135561″]The only accomplishments this man has made is to FAIL our middle schools, perpetuate low SAT scores, bloat the budget and anger it’s constituents. It is time for the board members to fire Raslowski before he does more damage to our schools.[/quote]

I second this motion, let’s get rid of this arrogant and incompetent superintendent.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 9:58 am

I went to Stevens. A few of my class were from Hoboken High. Almost all Hoboken High graduates were given conditional admission, they can attend Stevens provided that they join STEP program (Stevens Technical Enrichment Program), a summer program for newbies who have potential, but lack the educational background needed to make it. They were smart for the most part, but definitely lacking basic math and sciences education needed for college.

This has been **my** experience with HHS graduates, and from what I’m reading, it’s gone downhill since then.

Thursday, February 12, 2009 7:58 am

Raslowski has to go. His contract dictated that he have PERMANENT certification 1 year after employment,NOT a certificate of qualification or provisional certification. Knowing the bar would be raised for 5-7 grade testing, he provided no supports. Instead he looked into a new k/1 program. Our 5-7 grade students FAILED due to this neglegence. At the latest BoE meeting, when asked what programs were being put in place for the middle school grades, he responded “I only found out about these scores in December”-Wake up Jack, it’s February. Last year, our middle school scores were in failure. What’s your excuse for that? He blamed the kids for the poor SAT scores. If you are incapable of improving our schools, GET OUT! These lame excuses are costing our students their education. To add insult, when asked where the new Hola students would be placed he responded, “We can’t put them in Connors because Connors will be moving (for construction)in the 2010 school year, so we’ll relocate students from Wallace (place them in Connors) to make room our new program students.” When asked where we will get money for the new teachers, he responded, “We’ll take our (experienced) teachers from other programs and use them for the new program. Then, hire new teahers to replace those who were removed.” When asked how this will be implemented and who, from the district, researched this, he responded “I don’t know how this thing will work.” When asked why the middle school issues were not… Read more »

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