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Township Should Support Charter School

Writer is "outraged by the tactics engaged in by the detractors of the Hatikvah International Academy Charter School."

Dear editor, 

I am a property taxpaying resident of East Brunswick and a proud parent of a daughter who is currently attending kindergarten at the Hatikvah International Academy Charter School. Throughout the past few months, I have grown to love the experience and hands on educational programs that the school has offered my daughter. I am astounded by her growth over the past few months and the rapid endorsement of reading and writing skills of a new language. As a proponent of dual language learning, I have been so pleased with her overall progress. It appears very evident to me, as a parent, that the concept of two teachers based in one classroom has allowed her to receive individualized attention and has had a tremendous impact on her overall learning experience. 

The current Hatikvah location has a number of setbacks: 

  1. Not enough space for children to grow and experience outdoor actives.
  2. Not a great learning environment for children to learn in an ‘open space’ because of trailers with sound travelling to/from all classrooms. This makes learning a challenge and children have a tough time focusing on classroom activities. 

I reside less than a mile away from the new school location on Lexington and have close friends who live across the street from the new Lexington facility, in a safe residential area. I am proud of the housing regulations that East Brunswick has established over the years. I completely trust that if East Brunswick has approved residential complexes across from new school location on Lexington, the new location is SAFE for my 2 children. I have no concerns and completely approve of the new school location. I am a strong proponent of public school choice and would like to see through this challenging experience. 

I am asking that all decisions rendered by our elected officials balance the wants, concerns and needs of ALL taxpaying residents of the East Brunswick School District including residents who choose to send their children to the Hatikvah International Academy Charter School, a public school located in our town. 

I am outraged by the tactics engaged in by the detractors of the Hatikvah International Academy Charter School and I demand that they stop their unprofessional and unethical actions, which make East Brunswick look like a biased, anti-Israel, divided community.

I demand that our local officials stop wasting taxpayers’ dollars fighting the ability of the Hatikvah International Academy Charter School to expand its enrollment and footprint in East Brunswick, when the school has every legal right under State law to do so. Hatikvah uses every dollar it receives from the tax rolls for the education of the children who attend the school. Legal fees paid by Hatikvah to defend itself against the assault on our parents, faculty, students and friends are PRIVATELY FUNDED. Conversely, local taxpayers are paying for all the legal costs associated with the East Brunswick’s unwarranted and vicious attacks on Hatikvah. Legal fees paid by East Brunswick taxpayers to the attorneys hired by the East Brunswick school district are currently over $100,000. This is a waste of taxpayers’ dollars. 

I am outraged that the individuals WE elected to represent ALL of us have chosen to represent a select group of residents when they were hired by us to represent ALL of the residents of East Brunswick.

I am a East Brunswick taxpayer whose property taxes have gone up because money is being spent on this frivolous attack on the Hatikvah International Academy Charter School.

I am outraged that I had to bring this to the attention of our elected officials and residents. It is my sincere hope that we can come together to support all the residents of East Brunswick and their choice of public education. I look forward to a resolution of this unnecessary and divisive dispute. 

Sincerely, 

"A Concerned Resident"

NOT TRUE January 04, 2013 at 12:20 PM
This Opinion piece is extremely misleading. #1 This is not about what Hatikvah does or does not offer academically. It is about a land use decision that affects all taxpayers in East Brunswick. If the school had followed federal recommendations for public and charter schools, the school would have sought public input and comment first, and there possibly would be no need for an appeal. #2 The appeal of Hatikvah's use variance has been paid for, not by tax dollars, but by many, many community members who saw fit to pitch-in and contribute to the private legal fees of the appeal. #3 Regarding your comment on tax-payer dollars, the truth is that if Hatikvah closed tomorrow, the district could absorb all 100 East Brunswick children at Hatikvah back into our 8 public schools with little to no cost, and that roughly 2 Million dollars we are forced to pay to Hatikvah could be passed on to local taxpayers through property-tax relief or we could re-institute the programs we were forced to cut due to this school opening.
XIAOCHONG January 04, 2013 at 12:33 PM
Dear Ms. Polak, Your assertion that someone who does not believe this is safe location for children, or that someone who believes our tax dollars are better spent elsewhere, is not pro-Isreal is divisive, untrue and misleading. You are entitled to your own opinion about the school. However, you are wrong to characterize your neighbors this way; you are wrong to frame the issue under a false pretense, and you are not setting a good example for the children of this school or this town. Who has divided this community? It seems that since this school opened, the community has been divided. You speak of students with two teachers in a classroom, but what about the other thousands of students in town who are now missing out on programs and services, because of this school? We can not afford 9 public schools, Ms. Polak - it is that simple. Who has divided our town? Your attempt to make this about whether one supports Isreal is tactical and wrong.
Robin Romano January 04, 2013 at 12:44 PM
Why would a school district that has all Blue Ribbon schools, one of the best high schools in the country, and a town that has the good schools as the centerpiece of why people would wish to move here need a charter school? This is not about what is needed for kids but what is desired by parents. Every dollar that is going towards Hatikvah is being taken from those good schools. I understand the need for charter schools in areas that are not meeting the needs of the area, but that's not the case here. This is a "want" for some at the expense of others. Do those parents have the "right" to their school? Under the law, they do. Do they have the "right" to expect community support from the community they are injuring through their desire to follow their "rights"? Not so sure about that one.
Kevin Wyman January 04, 2013 at 01:41 PM
I can say without doubt that my wife and I are pro-Israel; Hebrew is the "second" language in our house. We do not support Hatikvah nor any other charter school that would divide our public schools (and tax dollars) by cultural preference.
Lee January 04, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Kevin, the school was already approved and its existence is a fact, she is talking about finding a proper and safe location for it, the fact is and let’s not try to hide it, that the residents which are concerned about the new location of the school are the same residents which are against the school and its existence. they are not worried even for a bit about the school students, they just don't like the school for all the reasons that you can see in the comments above....
Tacy Flora January 04, 2013 at 03:31 PM
First of all, Ms. Polak - you have no clue what you are talking about. It is people like you that make our town divided. No one is anti-Israel and sorry you feel that way. This is EB. We have several synagogues. My son attended the charter school in kindergarten. I loved that it was a dual language school. As the weeks went by, my child had learning issues. Hatikvah could not handle this.They had very little strategies. At one point, the principal recorded my son having a tantrum in her office. She admitted to it and later denied it when I asked to see it. My son was held in a bathroom against his will, to" calm" him down. He was suspended several times. They had a meeting in which I was not allowed to participate. I transferred him to my regular zoned school. There has been no issues since. If you want your child to learn a language, send him/her to regular school and pay for Sunday Hebrew school without devouring our tax money. I went into Hatikvah with a positive attitude and left very disappointed. They are unprofessional when it comes to a child with special needs. I know a few children that were transferred out to a regular public school as well. Why do we even need this school?
Amy Winn-Dworkin January 04, 2013 at 03:57 PM
The issue at hand is how the Town Council conducted itself during the appeal of the Zoning Variance. By law, the council members are only allowed to use prior testimony from the board of zoning meeting to make their decision on the appeal. What we should all be focusing on is asking the Town Council to abide by the law and take politics out the Board of Zoning Variance appeal. Any other discussion of the merit of the charter school is not only counterproductive but also moot. This is not a hearing on whether or not East Brunswick should have a charter school. It is here to stay. As a community comments like those above are divisive do more to alienate people than bring them together. I would hope in the wake of the Newtown shootings that all of us as adults show our children the good example of respecting differences without alienating people. I wish for the council to fairly evaluate the appeal and come to a decision quickly so we can get on with the business of educating our children. After all isn't that what we all want?
Anne January 04, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Why was Orit Polak's name taken off as the author?
Tacy Flora January 04, 2013 at 04:04 PM
It is relevant to the original comment. As far as EB being anti-Israel and divisive. She stated that the school taught her child and listed reasons why the school should exist. I merely stated my opinion as well. That is a statement completely MOOT to the topic of zoning too... but you didn't comment on her post!
Tacy Flora January 04, 2013 at 04:11 PM
My money is better spent on a school that can handle needs of ALL children. If anyone's comment was divisive and alienating - it was the AUTHOR. Respect is something that should be taught and practiced by everyone regardless of any tragedy.
Anne January 04, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Where is your dismissal of the zoning board and their personal comments on the merits of the school? Hatikvah supporters want two different levels of scrutiny, only when it suits them. How many times do you want us to continually look the other way when the school breaks the law, and hurts the majority of students in town?
Tacy Flora January 04, 2013 at 04:24 PM
exactly

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