Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Hoboken Charter School Approved by State To Give Preference to Low-Income Families

In a move that will indubitably spark dread into the anti-charter school brigade, HoLa Dual Language Charter School in Hoboken, a Spanish immersion public school that is especially popular among Latino families, will announce this morning that it has received approval from the N.J. D.O.E. to give preference during its lottery to low-income families.

From the press release:
Already boasting a beautifully diverse student demographic that mirrors the city of Hoboken, HoLa wants to ensure that all families in Hoboken have equal access to its very successful dual language educational model. While HoLa’s low-income demographic has been steadily increasing since it first opened in 2010, a low income preference gives families who may not have otherwise heard about HoLa an opportunity to learn more about our school and enter the lottery. Typically, HoLa has 22 spots in Kindergarten every year and over 220 applicants for those spots. 
And from the Star-Ledger:
The weighted lottery could combat a major criticism of both the Hoboken Dual Language Charter School and charter schools in general. Critics locally and across the country have accused charter schools of manipulating enrollment to take only the best students. 
Hoboken Public Schools, which filed a lawsuit last year to stop the charter school from expanding, complained that the school consistently has a lower percentage of minority students than the district.   
HoLa charter school will be able to expand, despite the district's opposition, because no "segregative" effect was found, state says. 
The state's decision to allow the weighed lottery opens the door for other charter schools to ask for lotteries that favor students who are considered underserved.
Great news, right? Public charter schools in N.J. are often attacked by a cadre that includes Bruce Baker, Mark Weber, Julia Sass Rubin (Save Our Schools-NJ), Education Law Center, and other cheerleaders for the status quo, mostly on the grounds that lotteries attract less poor, more motivated families. Now HoLa can assuage those fears by weighting its lottery towards the poorest applicants.

Yeah, right. Count on the brigade to continue to charge that charters “siphon money from district schools” and charters “are a conspiracy among hedge fund managers” and charters aim to bust unions. (Charters aren’t required to unionize, although staff members are free to do so.” So I suppose there’s still plenty of artillery.

But HoLa’s request and the D.O.E.’s sign-off disarms the primary cannon – the one that actually affects our most disadvantaged children – and that’s both a win for Hoboken students as well as those who support school choice.

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