Friday, February 25, 2011

Editorial - Proud of Public School Progress - Dr. Leon Gold

Here is an editorial that was published in last weekend's Hoboken Reporter from BOE member Dr. Leon Gold:

Proud of Public School Progress

Dear Hoboken resident,

It has been about a year since I was elected to the Hoboken School Board, a position that can be extremely frustrating at times, but also truly personally rewarding. I am acutely aware that Hoboken taxpayers and parents also share a number of concerns about how best to serve our students and community. To state the obvious, what parent doesn't want the best education for their child? What taxpayer doesn't want to get more value for their dollar?

I am very proud of the work done by this Board during my first year. I believe we are improving the Hoboken Public School system. I am most proud of the selection of our new Superintendent Dr. Toback, improving the academic content of our curriculum, maintaining a strong and fair bargaining position during current labor negotiations and the reduction in the school budget. The recent School report card has highlighted the importance of maintaining the ongoing effort to improve the academic performance of all Hoboken public school students and pinpointed where additional focus is necessary.

I would like to briefly address two issues of recent concern: the BOE budget and recent NJASK test scores. Concerning the BOE budget - the fact is the BOE budget for this year is less than it was for the previous year. Hoboken taxes did not go up due to an increase in the BOE budget. Hoboken, like many municipalities, endured massive cuts in State aid. However, where many municipalities were forced to cut essential programs and staff, we were able to continue to provide these essential services to the community, while taking no municipal tax increase! Unfortunately, it is expected that additional State budget cuts will be made in the next budget year.

Addressing the NJASK test performance is more multifaceted. The recent school report card shows that there are areas of great achievement and other areas that need improvement. Having worked in the area of test and measurements for many years I know it is extremely difficult to compare and interpret test results. This is especially true when factors such as student population, test preparation, scoring and student inclusion have changed over time. In addition, by selectively reporting data - multiple (and sometimes conflicting) interpretations of the health and progress of the Hoboken school system may be presented - I believe the scores show progress.

For me the important news in this area is the recent hiring of Dr. Anzul. As the new Director of Curriculum, Dr. Anzul has now implemented programs that will provide the BOE and the Hoboken community with better methods to diagnose and evaluate student progress using future test results. This increased and focused data driven analysis will lead to more focused and individualized instruction delivery, great for the students, teachers and district.

In all candor, I believe that reducing the BOE budget is a secondary part of my job. My primary goal is that of making all of Hoboken proud of its school system. In this regard – while sometimes frustrating – always rewarding as progress is being made.

Leon Gold
Member Hoboken Board of Education ◦