I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Monday, March 31, 2014

For the LAST Time: Hoboken's Charters Enroll Very Few Poor Children!

As a special service to the parents, taxpayers, and citizens of Hoboken, I present to you a handy guide that will once and for all dispel the notion that Hoboken's charter schools have a "student body [that] matches the demographics of the city pretty closely."


Your Guide To Student Demographics in Hoboken, NJ!

According to the Census Bureau's American Community Survey (5-year estimate) for 2012, Hoboken, NJ has:

  • 1,729 children between the ages of 5 and 9
  • 912 between the ages of 10 and 14
  • 1,742 between the ages of 15 and 19
That's a grand total of 4,383 children of or near school age within the city's limits.

1,706 children attend the Hoboken Public Schools (all data from here forward comes from the NJDOE).

Of those, 1,220 qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. FL requires the child's household income to be at 130% or below the poverty line; RPL is set at 185%.

Hoboken's three charter schools -- HoLa, Elysian, and Hoboken CS -- have a total student population of 775 students. Only 89 of them qualify for FRPL.

If you total all of the children who qualify for FRPL in Hoboken together and divide that number by the total population of 5- to 19-year-olds (making the most certainly incorrect assumption that all of those children are of school age, and none of the ones attending schools other than HPS or the charters would qualify for FRPL), you will find a total FRPL percentage for all of Hoboken's children of 30%.

Keeping in mind that this 30% figure is the lowest possible FRPL estimate for the city, and the true figure is unquestionably higher...

May I now point out the obvious?

The parents who are the "best and the brightest" of Hoboken (and that includes the mayor) have every right to advocate for their children's charter schools. There is a legitimate argument to be made in favor of charters in urban centers like Hoboken -- I may disagree with it (and perhaps that makes me a bit of a hypocrite), but it's a legitimate argument.

What I will not do, however, is stand by while mistruths are being flung around casually. Hola, HCS, and Elysian do not serve a student population that is demographically similar to the total school-aged population -- public, charter, and private students combined -- of the City of Hoboken.


ADDING: Apparently, the argument that Hoboken's charters "match the demographics of the city pretty closely" comes from the mistaken belief that a school's FRPL percentage can be compared to the overall poverty rate for a city. That is just not an apt comparison.

As I explained above, FRPL eligibility is not the same as being below the poverty line: FL eligibility is 130% of the poverty line, and RPL is 185%. So the FRPL population of a school is inevitably larger than its population below the poverty line. You just can't compare the two.

Further, you can't compare the poverty rates of children and adults: populations of children (and the elderly) tend to have higher poverty rates in communities like Hoboken than the overall population.

According to the ACS, Hoboken's overall poverty rate is 10.9%. But the under-18 rate is 17.9%, and the rate for 5-to-17-year-olds is 28.7%. Again: you can't compare either of those to the FRPL rate of Hoboken's charters, but even if you did, Hoboken's charters do not demographically match the population of the city's school-aged children.



Hoboken Schools said...

Thank you for taking the time to debunk the myths that have been circulating!!

Giuseppe said...

To borrow from Paul Krugman, these are zombie myths that refuse to die.

Unknown said...

The public schools have 1,706 students and the charters have 775 students, that's a total of 2,481 students. There are 4,383 school age children in Hoboken. Both the public and the charters account for only 57% of these kids.

Where are the other 1,902 school children? Do they use free of reduced lunches?

Duke said...

David, as I say in the post, that 4,383 MUST include children who are not of school age: 5-, 18-, and 19- year olds who are either too young for kindergarten or too old for high school.

In 2009-10, according to the Common Core of Data, there were 921 private school students enrolled in 5 private schools in Hoboken. See my first link in this post.

So add the kids who are too old or too young for K-12 school, the private school kids, the drop outs, the home schoolers, and you get the 4,383.

My point here is that a 30% total FRPL lunch rate for the entire city is the lowest possible VERIFIABLE calculation (and is certainly way too low) yet it is still WAY higher than the charter rate.

In other words: the Hoboken charter industry is pushing a meme that is demonstrably false.