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BOE VP Opposes Proposed Charter School

IT-named school would pull students from multiple towns, including Hillsborough and Millstone.

At Monday night’s meeting, new board vice president Judy Haas got right to work by making the board aware of the district’s receipt of an application from a proposed charter school to be located in Franklin Township, which would pull students from high schools in Hillsborough, Millstone, Franklin and Bridgewater-Raritan.

If the proposed school—operating under the working name of The Information Technology Charter School—gets off the ground, Haas informed the board that its intention is to have pulled 280 students from the desired districts within four years of its initial opening.

Haas stated that Hillsborough was chosen as one of the districts in question for its lack of information technology (IT) training, despite the fact that its high school robotics program is competing in a world championship match in St. Louis later this week.

“In the description about why our particular district was chosen, it says that our schools don’t provide adequate IT training,” Haas said, also noting an irony in this claim despite the robotics program’s success.

Other board members, such as Thuy Anh Le, were in agreement with Haas.

“Our school board and administration looks very carefully at what we think is important for students. We already have a very strong technology program and we’re including Mandarin Chinese in our elementary schools,” Le said. “Our school board and school administration has a very strong vision of what we should do for our school and our students for 21st century learning.”

Haas also questioned the value of a charter school education over an education within the district, citing that employees of charter schools are not held to the same standards as educators in public school systems.

“There are no requirements for certified teachers, no requirements for certified educators. It’s a tough world of charters, because there are no accountability requirements,” Haas said. “We go through all this accountability here in public schools, but the charters can operate virtually freely.”

“There’s really no ability to supervise what outcomes they have. From the experienced charters that exist right now, many people think that’s an answer to the problem of schooling,” Haas continued. “The truth is they don’t produce better results, automatically, than public schools do.”

joe April 24, 2012 at 03:13 PM
wow. someone missed the boat... The Robotics Team is an after-school club, with hardworking, talented students (none of them are my children or their friends), a facilty advisor and sponsor company volunteers who provide much of the technical expertise. I don't see how this in any way relates to our need or lack of need for an IT Charter school serving children in our district that could benefit from getting an education in a smaller setting with an IT curriculum.I have no vested interest in the charter school, as it would not be for my children, I feel Mrs. Haas's comments show her lack of knowledge in technical education, or possibly the high school curriculum. The children on the Robotics team do not necessarily end up in a technical field in college, nor do they necessarily take high school classes that relate to robotics, nor does robotics directly relate to information technology. How does Mandarin Chinese relate to technology?(It's referenced in the same sentence).
sammy April 24, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Charter Schools will cost each sending district money; so that hurts the taxpayer. But, i believe in competition and i also believe in choice and if a parent sees that as a better opportunity than it is worth it to me , a taxpayer. As for haas, she is shiling for the NJEA line. Notice her lies about "standards" , there lack of "success" ; yeah, that is why parents are on waiting lists? Duh. She is a union hack and will tow the line since the last thing the NJEA needs is more success stories - demonstrating Charter Schools can live without the BOE and Union thuggery. Le is the same but just a nicer version - she has no clue!! Mandarin? WTH ?
centurion April 24, 2012 at 04:17 PM
OUR school board seems to have taken a bid leap backwards in the last election. I'm glad not the only one that didn't get what Mandarin Chinese, in the elementary schools, has to do with tech education, in the high school. Unless it's the "If you can dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS" method of running the schools.
Concerned April 24, 2012 at 04:20 PM
sammy -- thanks for clarifying your positions. From you comment it appears you are a taxpayer and a racist.
sammy April 24, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Racist? Please explain what was racist? That is an ugly charge considering that statistically i representative of two minority groups
Jennifer Esposito April 25, 2012 at 11:16 AM
I was curious why they were adding the Chinese and Spanish too - wasn't it a few years ago that they cut elementary Spanish for the budget?! I guess that's one of those positions if they have the "extra" money they will add it but when things get tight - cut it!
Tom April 25, 2012 at 04:57 PM
“We go through all this accountability here in public schools, but the charters can operate virtually freely.” Haas said If the charter schools don't produce results, they will close. That is the way that the free market works. The government-run schools don't have to worry about that. I for one would love to see some competition from the private sector.
FairnessByAccountability April 25, 2012 at 05:12 PM
You are not only confused, your brightness is set on 'dim'. Nothing sammy said comes across as racist or remotely interest driven He conveys what all decent folks look for in their local, state and federal governments. Accountability, efficiency and competition to drive quality. None of which exist at any government positions (like teaching) and brutally and effectively exist in the real world. Teachers in public school - excellent or horrible - are pretty much destined to be there until retirement. Teachers in a charter school, or any other employee for that matter, would be gone at the sight of poor performance or ineffectiveness. That is what's needed everywhere.
dubious April 25, 2012 at 05:23 PM
From what I know, the Robotics program is a great program and a great reflection on our kids. But Haas is confused; it is not an academic program. What the district needs to focus on is often referred to as STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Math - that provides an integrated approach. I thought the district was working on that. As for language in the elementary schools, it is a STATE REQUIREMENT. According to the school's website and the press, spanish and chinese were the two top picks of a community survey. Sorry you didn't read about it. Please be more aware before posting.
dubious April 25, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Charter schools take students away from our district but still require our district to pay the charter school tuition. I'm sorry, but if I have to pay school taxes, I want them going to my local schools, not to a charter! Taxpayers should have a prior say as to whether their tax money should go to charters.
sammy April 25, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Excellent point! Close all Charter Schools NOW. Return those kids to failing schools. Or if your child is now excelling and has a chance , not given before, to enter the work environment, or advanced schooling because of a successful Charter School , too bad, Dubious doesnt want you to succeed. Also , for as much as you pay taxes in the thousands of dollars every year to everywhere, you do not have a say it how it is spent. Is that fair.
Edward P. Campbell April 25, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Haas thinks those kids she is now praising for her own political advantage, need drug tested! How dare she hijack their program, when she'd rather spend money on unnecessary random drug tests, than education. Just check her voting record if you don't believe me.
dubious April 25, 2012 at 09:54 PM
You do have a say. It's called a representative democracy. The fact that most of our representatives are idiots is our own fault. Who put them in there? We did. Do you want to vote on every item in the town's budget? The state budget? The federal budget? It would be chaos. I say vote out all of Congress and start over, with no outside money propping up any candidate. Then have term limits. THAT'S change.
dubious April 25, 2012 at 09:54 PM
BTW everyone, how do you know that random drug testing is NOT working? Do you know for a fact that no kids have been saved by the program. Let's get the facts first, ok?
LocaRoja April 25, 2012 at 11:31 PM
Students and parents deserve a choice in their children's education and it shouldn't just be between public school (free) and private school (paid). I don't know why the public schools are acting in fear and condemning something that doesn't yet exist. If they have a good program (which they say they do), then students will stay and attend where they are best served. For those that could get something more customized to their interests/strengths, then great, why wouldn't we want to help these students be better educated and trained to be competitive after graduation?
Edward P. Campbell April 26, 2012 at 12:38 AM
Do you know of one that has been saved? Isn’t that information private? So tell me, given that information is privileged how does one measure this program? What truths of this program do we really know? Truly, all we know is Haas voted to have these and tons of other highly motivated kids tested for drugs, and now she has the nerve to turn around and praise them as her flagship of all that is wholesome and good in Hillsborough‘s schools? Our schools are delinquent at both teaching and usage of technology. You want a drug free society? Keep the kids interested and challenged, and don’t subject the exceptional to drug tests. Seriously think what that means to a kid? The hood in the bathroom, smoking cigarettes and drinking after school, isn’t tested because he choices not to engage his brain, while the kids that do are? That is just ridiculous!
Tom April 26, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Very well said.
dubious April 26, 2012 at 02:03 AM
Edward, do you really believe that "smart" kids don't do drugs, only "hoods" do? What planet are you on? As far as charter schools are concerned, they can certainly operate if the voters approve them. That's the issue. People who want taxpayers to have a say on the budget ought to support taxpayers having a say on whether or not a charter school can take our students and ask us to pay for it. How would you feel if a charter school took 50 kids from the hillsborough school district and then asked the taxpayers of the district to pay their tuition? That would certainly eat up much of the $1,000,000 under cap savings of the past year.
residentgood April 26, 2012 at 02:45 AM
@ ed campbell: check again; she opposed RDT.
residentgood April 26, 2012 at 02:49 AM
@sammy: when we have failing schools in town then let's start one. In this area they are just starting "boutique" schools (one for Chinese, one for the environment, and now one for technology). All well and good but the town gets no control over how many and what they are, we are just required to write a check for each student.
residentgood April 26, 2012 at 02:56 AM
Here is what they fear: someone plops down a charter, and attracts 20 kids from various grade levels in the schools; the district writes a check for (lets estimate) $200K. Now, if you took all 20 kids from one class, one bus route or one school you could eliminate a class or bus route and recoup some of the cost. But since they are scattered throughout you have the same number of classes and buses and $200K less from the budget. The effect is a downward spiral of quality from the sending district; ask Princeton about that.
watchful one April 26, 2012 at 03:00 AM
haas wasn't on the school board when random drug testing was approved, she never voted on the issue. To the best of my knowledge, only one board member remains from that year, and he voted no on it.
residentgood April 26, 2012 at 03:03 AM
So when the hippy, enviro charter takes a bunch of students and their model doesn't work, they get dumped back into the public school for remedial help at a greater cost to the public school. The cost and risk is all on our town with no say on quality or accountability; not such a "free" market.
residentgood April 26, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Doesn't say in the article but a Chinese Charter was floated but didn't open a year ago so it is parallel.
residentgood April 26, 2012 at 03:16 AM
What should be happening is consolidation, not new little school districts (charters). Everyone seems to want shared services and reduction of administration but with each charter you get a new set of administrators. Little johnny might want a performing arts school and little jenny wants an IT school but make no mistake, this costs money. Do really want to pay for each person's favorite flavor of school? You can make the argument that Newark or Trenton, which has failing schools and real problems, should give an option for students who really want to learn. But to siphon money from a district that is doing fine just guarantees a slow decline of the district (which, if you believe the anticharter activists, is the goal).
Tom April 26, 2012 at 02:54 PM
You seem to be a bit confused. In what way would an Information Technology oriented school be "Hippy" or "Enviro"? And again, the taxpayer-funded, government-run, union-controlled schools could use some competition. Having options and competition (as in a free market) we could be sure that the current model is giving us the quality education that we are paying for, and the children of Hillsborough deserve.
residentgood April 27, 2012 at 02:21 AM
@Tom: Not confused in the least. Today it is an IT Charter but last year it was Trillium in Flemington (Earth oriented, whatever that meant) and Chinese in Franklin and next year it will be God knows what. So you like the IT charter (I kind of like the idea also). But we, as a town, have absolutely no control over who or what charter is next and we are required to pay for it. At least in the present model you have locally elected citizens who oversee the running and content of the schools. For charters you just write the check; no control, no vote, no accountability. I also fundamentally disagree with your characterization of the school system in Hillsborough; it is citizen funded, citizen run and citizen controlled. If the system is going unchecked, unchallenged and being run by the union then it is the citizens who have fallen down on the job (7% of registered voters in the school election, pathetic). If you want the schools to do better, to include IT in the curriculum, then it is your job to go out and demand that it be included. If you get backing from other people then it may be adopted. But if no one in town supports your idea (IT, enviro, etc.) then why should we be forced to pay for it.

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