In a letter to the editor, Hoboken parent Tatyana Zlotsky gives her opinion on why Dr. Christine Johnson is still the best person to lead the Hoboken Public Schools.
This week, there was news coverage personally targeting Dr. Johnson, the Hoboken Public School District Superintendent. It focused on the fact that she used the Dr. status prior to it being confirmed.
I understand that some people will find this to be misleading, particularly given the picture that was being painted.
My objective is not to debate that but instead to offer that it is imperative to go beyond the headlines and seek to understand the real set of facts and data, especially when it comes to our children’s education and future.
One question to consider is whether or not the fact that her Doctorate degree was not confirmed makes her unqualified for the role.
Dr. Johnson completed two degrees required for the position of Superintendent and additionally holds a second Masters in European Intellectual History.
In addition to those accomplishments, she completed all the required courses for her Doctorate in Historical Studies prior to taking on the superintendent role.
Dr. Johnson put off processing her Doctor of Letters until 2022 due to personal and health reasons which the article attempts to unpack publicly, inappropriately and inaccurately.
The facts are, Dr. Johnson was qualified, perhaps even overqualified, for the superintendent role.
Additionally, people that hire talent for a living know that basic qualifications are not a predictor for success. So, what is Dr. Johnson’s actual track record of results?
The facts are that she has been able to drive incredible outcomes for the Hoboken Public School District since joining in 2015.
The facts are that while the percentage of students meeting and exceeding proficiency for ELA and Math in the state of NJ has declined, under Dr. Johnson’s leadership, Hoboken Public School outcomes have dramatically improved.
(ELA NJ state scores declined from 59% in 2018 to 50% in 2022 while Hoboken increased from 55% to 62% Math NJ state score declined from 47% in 2018 to 37% in 2022 while Hoboken increase from 37% to 44%).
In addition to achieving new grounds on these fundamentals, she has elevated the curriculum through enrichment programs across art, music, foreign languages, theater, science and much more. Dr. Johnson is a force of nature.
She is committed to her role and passionate about driving progress to elevate our community.
This is not the first time Dr. Johnson has been personally attacked. The real question is why does a group of people choose to spend exorbitant time and energy bringing forward de minimis information in attempts to discredit her in public forums when she has objectively improved our school system across most dimensions?
History, an area Dr. Johnson has a deep expertise in, is a great tool to help us unpack this topic. Why was Susan Brownell Anthony arrested for voting? Why did sex education come under fire in 1960 arguing that teaching teens about sex encourages risky behavior?
Why did people like Nelson Mandela, Liu Xiaobo and many others were sent to prison only to later win Nobel Prizes?
The reason is that meaningful progress inevitably upsets the applecart for groups of people that for many years unfairly benefited from the old, less efficient and often corrupt system.
And while their objective cannot be tied to a bullet on a resume, it is clear. To make progress and those who dare to lead it so hard and painful, that they give up and deter others from trying.
Leaders like Dr. Johnson do not chase power, status or focus on being well liked. They shine a light on hard issues and inequities in the system.
They spend their time making things better. Our community is lucky to have Dr. Johnson’s expertise, experience and fearless leadership because that is what it takes to drive transformational change.
We have to do our part. We have to make it our priority to understand the real issues facing our community and show support for those that are helping to uphold our values – whoever they might be.
Because if we take these leaders for granted … they will find other important causes to support.