LETTER: McGreevey presented a misleading narrative about the Jersey City BOE


In a letter to the editor, Jersey City resident and educator Kristen Zadroga-Hart gave her take on why a recent opinion piece by former Gov. Jim McGreevey presented a misleading narrative about the local board of education.

Kristen Zadroga-Hart. Facebook photo.

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to a recent opinion piece published on NJ.com submitted by former governor and mayoral candidate, Jim McGreevey.

For someone who has only attended one Jersey City Board of Education meeting and has had limited, if in fact any, interactions within the Jersey City Public Schools, the former governor’s choice to bash our district’s teachers and students while throwing out misguided and misleading numbers is irresponsible and gaslighting for the sake of political gain.

As an educator in the Jersey City Public Schools for 30 years, I have learned that anyone who uses standardized test scores as a basis for their argument knows little to nothing about the nuances of public education in an urban school district.

Standardized test scores are a singular and myopic factor pushed upon us by elitists and for-profit corporations that do not take into account such factors as students with special needs, English language learners and the most telling indicator of academic success, students who qualify for free or reduced lunch.

To disrespect our educators and reduce students to a single test, taken on one single day, is to dismiss the hard work we do in collaboration with the parents and community partners in Jersey City.

Also, to base any argument regarding per pupil spending by simply dividing the budget by the total number of students enrolled in the district is either a sign of ignorance or deception.

First, you must deduct $175 million dollars off the top of the budget which is sent to Jersey City charter schools as well as the $30 million that is sent to private pre-school providers for state-mandated Pre-K 3 programs.

Then we must factor in the added expenses that are associated with educating students in the same categories that negatively impact standardized test scores which include students with special needs, English language learners, students who qualify for reduced lunch and students living in poverty.

The percentage of JCPS students who qualify for reduced lunch is 44.5% higher than the state average, while the percentage of students who live in poverty is 46.5% higher than the state average.

The percentage of JCPS students who are English language learners is 61.9% higher than the national average and almost 5% of JCPS students have a documented disability requiring access to much-needed resources.

Perhaps a better use of time would be to question state Senator/Union City Mayor Brian Stack as to why there is such a disparity amongst three school districts he has been elected to serve.

Jersey City, with an enrollment comparable to Paterson, and more than double that of Union City, receives 75% less state aid than Paterson and 42% less state aid than Union City.

How can we expect someone whose mayoral campaign is beholden to Stack to go to Trenton and fight for adequate state funding to alleviate the burden on local taxpayers?

So while educators may be an easy scapegoat to bear the brunt of criticism when trying to bolster a political campaign, remember that we are the ones who are tirelessly working with our students every day to overcome these obstacles and educate the whole student and not just focus on a standardized test score.

Kristen Zadroga-Hart
Jersey City resident, educator


Editor’s note: Kristen Zadroga-Hart is also the committee chair for the Bill O’Dea for Jersey City mayor campaign.

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  1. Evidence that is admissible (Standardized test scores) is allowed to be presented to be judged, whichever is deciding the case. The judgement may then consider whether the evidence “Standardized test scores” are credible enough and sufficient to prove the fact which the evidence is presented to prove. If evidence is inadmissible, it cannot be presented to a judgement and cannot be use. If Standardized test scores do not take into account, then why have it.