LETTER: Dr. Christine Johnson is still the best person to lead the Hoboken Public Schools


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.

Dear Editor,

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.

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  1. (Dr) Christine Johnson knowingly and repeatedly lied about her qualifications to hold the position.
    She should resign or be terminated.

  2. Hey, it’s just a little lie.
    Hey, it’s just a little fraud.
    Hey, it’s just a little violence.
    It’s disgusting how BS is defended, and you gotta ask why

  3. The issue here isn’t whether Johnson is and was when hired academically qualified for the position even without a PHD. I’ll grant that.

    The issue is that she lied about having a PHD for 14 years, and that is just the beginning of a pattern of lying to advance her agenda culminating in the cornucopia of lies she (and her school board enablers) told while trying to foist the $300 million high school boondoggle on the taxpayers/voters.

    Hoboken deserves honest government. I’m OK with not firing her if the School Board thinks she’s doing a great job. But at a minimum, the School Board ought to issue a public reprimand.

    Unfortunately, the School Board, which was a full partner in the high school referendum lies, has chosen to join with Johnson in lying about this as well.

    Shame on all of them. They certainly aren’t the role models I want for my children.
    Hoboken’s children and taxpayers deserve better.

  4. This hysterical fan letter not only shows that the author but Johnson have no moral compass.
    Equating Christine Johnson to Nelson Mandela and Susan B. Anthony I must also question her sanity.

  5. This letter is absurd. The comparisons are absurd. Johnson didn’t need to lie to upset any apple cart. Honestly, it is perplexing why she chose to lie. But she did lie…for years. If she had any sort of moral compass she would resign.

  6. Two members of the board of ed — Sharon Angley and Tom Kluepfel — were on the board when Christine Johnson was hired in 2015. They certainly knew she didn’t have a doctorate of any kind; she didn’t list any doctoral courses or an “all but dissertation” status on her three-page resume. But if they had done any vetting, they would have questioned why she was referred to in Boonton as Dr. Johnson. And they certainly would not have called her “doctor” beginning with the first meeting she attended in Hoboken. What would spur them to call her Dr? And what would spur Johnson to allow it to continue?

    This story is hardly a “personal attack” as alleged by the letter writer. Just because Johnson has excuses for her long-term fable (did the dog eat her homework too?) doesn’t mean this is not a valid story. Allowing Johnson to play the victim is the real problem. Her fans accept her timeline without any proof. She could apologize and provide proof that she actually had all her classwork done back in 2015, but she knows her fan club won’t press. And it’s irrelevant to whether or not she had the doctorate.

    But what about the students in the district? Don’t they deserve an apology from Johnson and the board members? Is Johnson going to give a speech at graduation about leadership? doing the right thing? honesty? character development? lessons learned?

  7. No one is questioning the job Christine Johnson has done, but integrity does matter and, in my opinion, she should be fired immediately. The BoE should also be held accountable for knowingly perpetuating this misrepresentation of Dr. Johnson’s credentials for seven years. Enough is enough!

  8. “One question to consider is whether or not the fact that her Doctorate degree was not confirmed makes her unqualified for the role.”
    No, that’s not the question at all. In fact, the only question to consider is whether or not her credentials were intentionally misrepresented, which is clearly the case.

    “Leaders like Dr. Johnson do not chase power, status or focus on being well liked.”
    She clearly chased the power and status of the “Dr.” title, by using it for years before actually earning it.

    This letter misses the point entirely. No matter how good a job Christine Johnson did, her behavior was fraudulent and the BoE was complicit. We need to hold our leaders, especially those charged with educating our children, to a higher standard than this and take the appropriate steps to ensure that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.