In an editorial, Hoboken resident Rich Walker explains why he feels that voting against the $241 million school referendum is pro-transparency, not anti-education.
When we turned the page on the brutal 2020 presidential election I thought we would see people being more civilized and less polarized but here we are again.
This time the venue is our own city that is so polarized over a situation that has been masterminded in secrecy over the past two years!
The elected officials of Hoboken along with the Board of Education (BOE) knowingly waited until the day after the November city election to let the cat out of the bag.
Our elected officials stacked the odds against the citizens of Hoboken for a fair, transparent and open discussion about the educational needs of the children of Hoboken.
Instead, our elected officials made the decision that we will have a new sports complex (with a school attached) and every resident of Hoboken shall pay for this school for the next 30 years.
The BOE has manipulated the numbers in their favor from an enrollment perspective while keeping tight lipped about the fact that the math and reading proficiency of the students “graduating” from Hoboken High School are some of the worst in the state.
These are the actions of our elected officials. In a true Democracy our elected officials would be meeting with constituents to understand our points of view and our concerns.
Our elected officials should be holding open forums for the residents to ask questions and get a better understanding of why this solution, why now, and why at this cost.
Instead, our elected officials have decided to join forces and buddy up to a small group of Hoboken residents with similar viewpoints.
Our elected officials and the BOE have already made the decision that a $241M ($330M with the interest on the bond) complex will be built on the current Hoboken High School stadium site. They have stacked the deck.
There’s been no talk about how this monolithic structure will improve test scores and prepare students for the real world that they will face — and let me be clear that the world and environment that these students will face when they graduate in 2029 will be vastly different than the world we know today.
Our democracy is already teetering, and our climate will likely be beyond repair. Will subpar math and reading scores prepare your child for this new world? Maybe a hockey rink will? Who knows!
Is it better to invest $241M in a structure with all the amenities anyone could imagine or to invest a fraction of that amount on teachers, books, tutors, internet and food security for our limited income students, advanced placement classes, and an emphasis on art and music?
Clearly there is a faction of Hoboken residents that believe having a state-of-the-art sports arena is more important than educating all of Hoboken’s students to the highest standards.
Our elected leaders have already decided that having one of the costliest high schools in U.S. history, that will only serve an additional 100 students, is more important than affording our students a competitive education.
Who is to blame for this situation that we find ourselves in? How is it that we have no checks and balances in in this process? How have we become a one-party city? Many of our “elected” officials ran unopposed this year.
They’ve known for some time that they could ramrod this referendum through; keep it quiet; spring it on us weeks before the election.
They’ve quietly told the residents favoring the referendum to go to the polls and vote while keeping most residents in the dark that a referendum is even approaching.
Furthermore, if the referendum fails those in favor will blame it on residents who opposed the measure falsely claiming that anyone who votes “no” doesn’t believe in education. Sound familiar?
Hoboken is becoming more like the oppressed society of George Orwell’s “1984” than a democratic entity where our elected officials represent the will of the people.
To reference the tag line of the Washington Post “Democracy Dies in Darkness” is what Hoboken residents are experiencing with the cloaked secrecy of this referendum.
So, on January 25th ask yourself this question: do I want darkness and a lack of transparency, or do I vote “No” and demand that we discuss this proposal fairly and openly — with options, outcomes, and full representation while maintaining a level of civility.
Voting “No” is not a vote against education. It’s a vote for transparency.