Parents Have a Right to Choose Hatikvah

Writer asks why only a few are "allowed to derail and hold hostage the plans of this fine school, Hatikvah?"

Dear Editor,

I have been a resident and taxpayer in East Brunswick for 18 years.  Three of my children have graduated from East Brunswick High School.  I was reasonably happy with the education they received. One special needs child attended school out of the district and I appreciated having that option available to us.

I believe that parents have the right and responsibility to seek the best education for their children.  Today, East Brunswick is blessed with several fine options for public school education, one of which is the Hatikvah International Charter School. Why are two or three rabidly vocal detractors allowed to derail and hold hostage the plans of this fine school, Hatikvah?  

Why are these people allowed, with the apparent approval and encouragement of the presiding officer of the town council, an extremely young and childish acting Mr. Michael Hughes, who should have instead served as a neutral moderator, to delay and delay and run up legal fees paid by taxpayers such as myself. 

Surely we can find another use for the $100,000 already spent on these frivolous proceedings.

Three of my grandchildren attend Hatikvah and they love it.  One grandchild has difficulty in large groups and the staff and teachers have made every accommodation for him.  He is now one of the star pupils and a joy to his teacher.

This delay is unacceptable.  We voters and taxpayers deserve better in East Brunswick.

Virginia Rockwell

Fran January 05, 2013 at 01:48 PM
To my knowledge, there has not been tax dollars spent on this appeal. From what I understand there were many, many individuals in the community who all pitched in to pay for an attorney for an appeal. As far as the school's legal counsel, someone posted on another one of these bogus op-eds that the school's legal fees are privately financed (which as a public entity, the school should be a little more transparent about its backers). I understand this is another opinion piece, but at some point the Patch should show a little editorial integrity to not allow people to just make up numbers and see if they stick. $100,000? You magically assigned $100,000 to the appeal process out of no where? Or did the school mislead you into believing that? - It seems there is a pattern of that here. It is evident by the regurgitated sound bites and made-up numbers that the school coached these people into writing these op-eds. I guess those lobbying classes the Charter School Association has been providing you has paid off. Can't any of the Hatikvah parents/grandparents think for themselves?
Ralph Wiggums January 05, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Great to see that EB Patch has become a political board for people to just repeatedly type up a letter about the same repeated topic with their opinion and post it. It's becoming like a giant Hatikvah blog. People who send their kids there will post letters of support, people who don't see the need will post the opposite. In the end, we're still back at square one with the same people on each side of the issue. If NJ would just allow communities to vote if they wanted a charter or not, it would be much easier to figure out. But, the state has put themselves in the position of deciding for the people when they need charters or not...whether they are really wanted/needed, or not by the people who live in that community.
David Schabovitz January 05, 2013 at 08:21 PM
LisaD January 06, 2013 at 12:39 AM
Parents have a right to send their kids to this school, but only if they speak hebrew. I support character schools, but they should be normal schools that are accessible to anyone.
EBtalloaks January 06, 2013 at 01:30 AM
One objective of the charter school is to teach Hebrew. The school is open to anyone and everyone; there are no prerequisites.
Liti Haramaty January 06, 2013 at 02:17 AM
But why would anyone who is not Jewish or Israeli want their kids to learn and obscure and rarely spoken language? This school was established for a small group within our diverse EB community.
EBtalloaks January 06, 2013 at 03:24 PM
The school roster is incredibly diverse: my daughter is classmates and friends with Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Mormons. It’s an unfortunate misconception that Hatikvah is a Jewish/Israeli school…Nothing could be further from the truth. I can't speak to why others send their kids to Hatikvah, but I suspect it’s for many of the same reasons that I do. The charter school offers a unique teaching perspective and an optimal student/teacher ratio (not aides, but certified teachers). Also, Hatikvah established the first full-day Kindergarten in East Brunswick, prompting the Township to finally do the same in its footsteps. The charter school has done good things for this community too...It's not all bad, as others choose to believe. I know Hatikvah isn't for everyone, but there are hundreds of children attending the school and it's not going away. We need to find them a suitable home.
LisaD January 06, 2013 at 03:49 PM
EBtalloaks - I would like to see the data. What % of students are jewish. Also, if this is such a diverse school with diverse and normal teaching goals, why is it call "Hatikvah" then? As I said before, I support character schools, but since public money is used to run them, they should be equally open and accessible to all.
EBtalloaks January 06, 2013 at 04:30 PM
I don't have data; I only speak anecdotally from personal experience. I think you're entitled to data and transparency, frankly. What are "character schools?"
LisaD January 06, 2013 at 07:08 PM
Ug, sorry about my poor typing skills! All of those are typos, it should be charter schools. By the way, I think the debate over the school's new location is rather silly. The school was approved (obviously, I think charter schools should be more inclusive), so finding the appropriate home for it is important. And I know the street/area in question and see absolutely no reason that a small school can't be located there. I am a believer of competition and that goes for the public school system. No matter what EB residents think, our system is good, but nowhere near great. Our rankings are mediocre at best.
Kelly January 06, 2013 at 07:13 PM
That's the problem - Hatikvah parents are only looking "anecdotally" at what they can get for their children with no concern for what the impact on the other public schools that serves thousands of children in our town. I am glad that you atleast admit that Hatikvah is not transparent. And, I would add that I don't think examining the religious make-up of the school really tells us about diversity. I would like to know, among the towns it is pulling students from, what is the percentage of special needs students (and of those what percentage are high-incidence, low severity), what is the percentage of free and reduced lunch students, and what is the percentage of ESL students (not coming from homes that speak the schools's immersion language of Hebrew).
EBtalloaks January 06, 2013 at 10:31 PM
I didn't say the charter school isn't transparent; I said everyone is entitled to transparency.
Keep it Fair January 07, 2013 at 03:31 AM
She is probably referring to the fees that the BOE and Hatikvah spent on the other litigation plus the amount they paid to object to the application for the use of the church as a temporary school location. Which seems odd that the two women objecting to the 7 Lexington Avenue building objected to that church application too. Except on the church application, they attended the public hearings together, with the BOE representatives and lawyers. Seems odd that the same two people object to everything this school does. I see a pattern here.
Anne January 07, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Keep It Fair, I've read the minutes and see no such thing. Why don't you tell us what page of the minutes contains these women contesting the variance at the church? If the school is going to rely on repeated LIES as its defense, it will eventually fail.
Paying Attention January 07, 2013 at 06:06 PM
What is not transparent about this process is why the Eisenreich Family Foundation has invested $2,715,000 to purchase 7 Lexington Ave and providing private support for the Hatikvah attorney, first to go against the EB School Board and now against the EB Council. And how is it that the same attorney can double dip with a salary from the township while being in their pay. I, for one, appreciate that a few good citizens have invested their time and personal funds to bring this to light.
It's a conspiracy! January 07, 2013 at 09:03 PM
Please provide documentation that the attorney, who as you write had "first gone against the EB School Board" and now "against the EB Council" is the same attorney. Next, please provide documentation that the Eisenreich Family Foundation is paying for "private support" for the attorney. Because otherwise, your statements are slanderous. Finally, post the list of the "few good citizens" that chipped in to the appeal fund. I think the public should see it since you feel so strongly about transparency. Thanks.
Paying Attention January 09, 2013 at 04:12 PM
I submitted a response to "It's a conspiracy" previously but notice that was not posted, so I will repost my reply now. Point 1: I don't know how many attorneys the Eisenreich Foundation has retained to represent Hatikvah. I only meant to say that it has paid attorneys for the school. I revise my first sentence as follows: "...and retained one or more attorneys to represent Hatikvah in court against the EB School Board and before the EB Planning Board and Council." Point 2: By "private support" I referred to the nature of the funding. I used "private" to contrast "public" funding via tax dollars. Supporters of Hatikvah have complained that legal actions against Hatikvah by the EB School District wasted tax (public) dollars but, in fact, both the applicant for the use variance and those who have brought the appeal have been supported by private (non- tax) dollars. Point 3: I cannot name names of people I do not know but from the articles and comments that have appeared in EBPatch this week, it is clear that those who oppose siting a public school in a warehouse are far greater than the two who are appealing the use variance. Many good citizens appearing before EB Council and participating in this discussion have identified themselves by name. Others, perhaps fearing the personal attacks that you and others employ, have decided to protect themselves with pseudonyms, as you have done. It's their choice and right.
Jarhead May 30, 2013 at 03:24 PM
When the township loses another case against the charter school what happens next? More stalling tactics by the Clowncil to ensure the school can't make the improvements in time for a September opening. The whole S.O.S. movement smells like the long tentacles of the NJEA are behind it. Don't dare challange the authority of the Cartel. They have been in charge so long they think they should be the only game in town. I hope the next time the Clowncil members who voted against the school and the two S.O.S. operatives say, "It's only about the safety of the children" we can all watch as their noses grow.It's all about a challange to the public schools cartel and that will not be tolerated.


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