Community Member Testifies in the Legislature; BOE Spurns Him Again

[POWERPOINT PRESENTATION] A community member who has taught in Lakewood High School for ten years testified before the Joint Legislative Committee on the Public Schools last Tuesday, March 19, in Trenton on behalf of Lakewood school children. Although the hearings were about virtual charters, Co-Chair Senator Ronald Rice (Essex) quickly turned the conversation to the Lakewood School district.

Aaron Lang, who has written numerous articles for TLS, went to Trenton to ask committee members to consider recommending legislation to charter virtual schools for the sake of the children of Lakewood, projected to become a large part of the future population of New Jersey, because many of them do not have access to quality English education. Rice promised to make contacts with other legislators after hearing his vision while Co-Chair Assemblywoman Wagner found sympathy with his plan to open the public schools to the young adults of Lakewood for vocational and professional courses in the evening. Senator Greenstein asked why nothing has happened as of yet.

“The Lakewood Board of Education has never given me a chance to present my plan,” Rabbi Lang tells TLS. “After I went to Trenton, a board member promised to submit my working document to the Board Attorney for his review and then to allow me to speak to the full Board. He did neither.” Rabbi Lang has documentation of no less than eight emails from the board member dating back to March 14,  2012, of planed meetings that were later cancelled. “The only detailed conversation I had with any of them was a March 2012 phone call with another board member who was impressed enough to promise me the administrative authority to fix the system. Several additional board members were quite excited after hearing of the vision and promised me their support. They all unexpectedly stopped communicating with me after the election  last April. I went public on TLS last August.”

To view the presentation that Rabbi Lang prepared for the public, click here.

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  1. Your proposal calls for Lakewood Yeshiva boys to go Lakewood High School where you teach to learn English subject.
    And you wonder why no one from BOE has responded to you!!!!!
    In your slides you point out that Lakewood yeshiva system is not educating our boys and girls to the level needed. I may be in agreement with you there but the solution is not to put them in the Public School.

  2. #3

    This is about bringing the school to the child rather than bringing the child to the school. It is the choice of the student where to receive instruction. The aid is provided by the state directly for the benefit of the individual student at home or any other place, so that attendance in a sectarian school is irrelevant to the aid. This is individual choice as applied to Lakewood.

    As for the vocational courses in LHS, those will be for young adults who want to learn a trade or professional skills. Many young people have dropped out of the system and have no direction. Moreover, private courses cost over a thousand dollars while we have the facility and the faculty to provide them for a relatively small expense.

  3. Mr. Lang, how often have you gone to BOE meetings to speak during the public sessions. As you well know everyone is allowed time to speak !!!! Following this protocol you will be front and center speaking to the administration, the board members and the public. It’s your time.
    Hope to see you at the next board meeting.

  4. Mr. Lang, I have a couple of points/ questions.
    1- you say that 15,000 students dont have access to education. That is not really true – they have access- if they wanted it- but opt to go to private schools.
    2- of the mesivta boys in town in yeshivas that do not provide English, how many of these students do you think would really use your proposed program? it seems to me that a huge majority do not care about their boys getting English. another huge amount would like it but are resigned to the idea that they will not be getting it. and a small amount would want their kids to take it (myself included) but in reality, given their heavy learning schedules, how would they actually accomplish it?
    3- you say each kid enrolled would bring in $17,000. How does that work exactly?

  5. It is unjust if so much as one child wants an education and cannot access it.

    1) I have heard it for years, “You have a choice.” The only de facto choice is which religious school, not whether to attend the public schools. The “inexorable zero” of those accommodated under the status quo and the reluctance to innovate alternate means of educating them has had a discriminatory disparate impact on a whole class of citizens. The end result is that nobody gets a good education in Lakewood, not even the population that attends the public schools.

    2) There are hundreds of 18 and 19 year olds who are no longer in mesivta or otherwise have time for coursework. Depending upon their transcripts, we can award most of them a diploma within a year. Also, some young men are bright enough to finish a single course over the span of several Friday afternoons while in yeshiva. This should be made available. As for girls, their schools would give them “reverse release” time for secular studies. Tuitions would be greatly reduced as English education will be free.

    3) In 2013, the base state funding for a high school student is $12,244. Over 70% of non-public students in Lakewood are free and reduced lunch. They bring in $17,876. Special education students bring in $32,805. But consider that district student counts are not revised every year (they were in 2013–I submitted a 74 page report on school funding to the BOE and they ignored it). Also, districts are funded using a census-count for special education rather than the raw count.

  6. aaron:
    so if we enroll 50 students in the public school, the state funds 12244.00 per student?

    and wont the increase in students raise our property taxes since the main funding for schools comes from our property taxes?
    and how do you think it would work with the girls? there would be no English in the high schools? they would go home after Hebrew classes and log in to English thru the public schools?
    Also isnt there something to be said for learing from a teacher? how well can one learn from a computer?

  7. The School Funding Reform Act (SFRA) sets these numbers per student. Normally, the SFRA is not fully funded as the legislature determines a set amount for education, subject to court challenges under the NJ constitution. The 2013 appropriation was $7.8 billion. The money is then divided between districts. If Lakewood gets a larger or smaller share, nobody’s state income taxes are affected. However, Lakewood resident pay less property taxes if more kids are counted.

    The girls do not have to go home. They can take their course in their mosod through a non-internet server.

    The blended model is the most preferred by educators. Each student taking a full load will be entitled to two hours of live instruction or supervision per week. This will cost $2,880 per year. Students can also combine hours so that 10 have 20 hours of live instruction.

    This is available to all students. It does not promote religion. It does not have any effect on religion. It does not entangle the sovereign with religion.

    As long as the district is fixed on an antiquated picture of reality in Lakewood, we will not fix it; we will continue to fail; property taxes will skyrocket because the system is built upon state funding which we do not care to use to our advantage; nor will we solve the tuition crisis, the state funding conundrum, or bring opportunity to our children.

  8. quote 1) I have heard it for years, “You have a choice.” The only de facto choice is which religious school, not whether to attend the public schools.
    the fact of the matter that is a choice. it may not be an acceptable choice in your eyes but the bottom line is Private is Private and Public is public you decide which is the one that fits your own lifestlye

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