Paging Gregor Mendel: Untangling Anti-Charter Rhetoric

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on facebook
Share on twitter

The Hoboken Board of Education, writes attorney and charter school parent Paul Josephson in yesterday’s Star Ledger, is using school district funds to prevent Hoboken Dual Language Charter Schools (HoLa) from expanding to seventh grade in order to serve twenty-one current sixth-graders who want to stay there.  According to Josephson, the New Jersey Department of Education approved the expansion but the Hoboken B.O.E. is seeking an injunction to thwart parent choice for those twenty-one students while the case is under review:

Charter school expansion is nothing new. After five years of successful operation, the state decision provides all Hoboken children a dual-language option for middle school and continuation of HoLa’s highly effective curriculum. The success of HoLa and its students, at almost half the cost of HBOE schools ($13,068 versus $24,318 cost amount per pupil for 2013-14 per the NJDOE’s 2015 Taxpayer’s Guide to Education Spending), strikes fear in the hearts of the HBOE’s leadership and union. 

The district’s argument is that HoLa siphons students from the district schools. However, instead of putting its money and effort into classrooms, and upping its game to win these students and their parents back, the district apparently believes it a better use of taxpayer funds to mount spurious litigation against more successful public schools. In continuing a meritless lawsuit after its procedural arguments have failed not once but twice, the HBOE telegraphs its fear of any threat to its educational monopoly.

I’ve seen Josephson’s name before, and found a reference (gotta love google) in a blog written by Darcie Cimarusti, a school board member in Highland Park and employee of Diane Ravitch’s new anti-reform group called The Network for Public Education. Back in 2012 Josephson wrote an op-ed for the Asbury Park Press (link no longer available) explaining why putting new charter schools to a public vote was  a terrible idea. Cimarusti wrote this in response:

Save Our Schools New Jersey, backed by well over 6,000 parents, is the driving force behind the legislation Mr. Josephson is denigrating.  But Save Our Schools New Jersey is not anti charter, and Mr. Josephson knows that.  In fact, it isn’t a secret that Julia Sass Rubin, one of the main spokespersons for [and founder of] Save Our Schools NJ, has a child that attends the same charter as Mr. Josephson’s two children, Princeton Charter School.   

I swear you’d need a genealogist to figure out all the connections among Save Our Schools-NJ, NJEA, NPE, Parents Across America, and national teacher unions.  While union-evangelist Ravitch is the president of NPE, the Director is Leonie Haimson, who is also Executive Director of Class Size Matters and one of the founders of Parents Across America. Haimson was the original owner of Save Our Schools-NJ’s url. Save Our Schools-NJ, is an affiliate of Parents Across America. Parents Across America receives funding, at least in part, from NEA.

Here’s Alex Russo:

No, it’s not the issue of whether they’ve received any money from the teachers unions. [They have, apparently, but I don’t care.]  No, it’s not that PAA is a private subsidiary of Leonie Haimsen’s Class Size Matters.  [Nonprofit doesn’t mean corporate or capitalist in my book.]  No, it’s not even increasingly ridiculous claims that PAA makes about reformers and those like me who raise questions about their allegations. [Though I have to admit the paranoia and name-calling are really annoying.] 

It’s actually a problem that PAA shares with its sworn opponents, the school reform community.  Like many reform group leaders, PAA is mostly not from the low-income minority communities or the dysfunctional schools that are the the focus of so much reform attention, and it’s not at all clear that have a legitimate claim to represent those communities and schools in any great numbers.  

So all these groups are bound by a commitment to stifle choice for low-income minority parents in order to protect their own great schools. The fact that one of the engineers of this rhetoric happens to send her kid to a charter doesn’t make the groups, as Cimarusti puts it, “not anti-charter.” This fact simply injects elements of absurdity, duplicity, and double-talk to the whole anti-reform enterprise.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest


  • StateAidGuy, May 27, 2015 @ 3:53 pm Reply

    Adding to the absurdity is that Hoboken is an Interdistrict Choice district and therefore does to other public school districts (mostly Jersey City) what it attacks HOLA, Elysian, and HCS for.

    The Interdistrict Choice funding formula isn't applied as the law were written, but if it were, every time a Jersey City kid enrolled in Hoboken's schools Jersey City would lose the state funding for that child. Since Jersey City's schools are mostly state funded, this means that the effect of Interdistrict Choice on high-aid sending districts like JC is the same as the effect of a district losing a child to a charter school.

    The Christie Administration has not allowed any district to lose money in the last few years. This means that Jersey City hasn't lost any money because it loses students to Hoboken's Interdistrict Choice, so this means that the absurdity is that NJ taxpayers are double-paying for students, first, in their district of residence, Jersey City, second in their district of enrollment, Hoboken.

    Never mind Hoboken's obscene aid hoarding ($5.5 million of unmerited money for K-12) through Adjustment Aid and Additional Adjustment Aid.

  • Julia, May 28, 2015 @ 1:00 am Reply


    Yet another attempt by you to link Save Our Schools NJ to teachers unions? Can't you make something else up to write about?

    As you know, SOSNJ is all volunteer, unincorporated, and has never taken any funding from NJEA.

    And while we're at it, let's correct a few more of your mistakes.

    1) Leonie Haimson did not own the original Save Our Schools NJ url. I have no idea what you're talking about there.

    2) And, Leonie is not THE director of NPE. She is one of the more than a dozen board members. NPE has an Executive Director – Robin Hiller. It's right on the web site, Laura.

    Speaking of odd connections, here's one I find interesting. Paul Josephson, whom you described as an “attorney and charter school parent” is the President of the Princeton Charter School Board and a member of the NJ Charter School Association Board, two affiliations that Mr. Josephson did not bother revealing in his very inaccurate editorial.

    Now why do you you suppose Mr. Josephson was so secretive about those affiliations?

  • bob jones, May 28, 2015 @ 10:34 am Reply

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • bob jones, May 28, 2015 @ 10:49 am Reply

    Look at that! Josephson is a board member of the NJ Charter School Association and also advises corporations nonprofits and public entities on procurement matters, governance, and communications strategies. Looks like Hola's pulling in the big guns!

    And gee! Isn't that the same NJCSA group who filed that slapp suit (or such charge ?) in what seems to be an attempt to stop criticisms about Charter schools? Can't get more transparent than that!

    Ms. Waters writes:”attorney and charter school parent Paul Josephson”

    Ms. Waters you really should have given this man his credit. Such a small notation for such a seasoned and powerful man
    Reality: Paul Josephson is a partner with Duane Morris LLP in Newark and Cherry Hill and Duane Morris Government Solutions in Trenton, where he litigates for and advises corporations, nonprofits and public entities on administrative and procurement matters, governance, and communications strategies. He previously served in various senior positions for the State of New Jersey as Chief Counsel to the Governor, Chief of Authorities, and Director of the Division of Law, overseeing the State's 550 civil attorneys and its 50 independent authorities. He advises numerous Democratic and Republican officeholders and lectures on policy, election and ethics issues. He chairs the New Jersey State Bar Association's Administrative Law Section; co-chairs the Citizen's Campaign Legal Task Force, which promotes citizen-led government reforms; and is a trustee of the New Jersey Charter School Association.

    For those reading the story. There are so many errors and distorted facts and details written in the story that it bears almost no semblance of the actual case. The opinion piece looks like nothing more than Pure rhetoric!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *