Deconstructing Hoboken as the #1 Least Attractive US School District
What defines the attractiveness of a school district? According to the Wall Street Journal, it is the number of children over age five compared to children under five in the last census data. With a ratio of 39:100, Hoboken wins the dubious rank of #1 least attractive school district in the United States.
Least attractive is not the same thing as worst. A walk through Atlantic City, Camden or Newark will quickly remove any basis for comparison with Hoboken schools. You can also view Hoboken test scores at GreatSchools.org.
So what do those numbers tell us? The same thing that a walk down Washington Street will tell you – that there are many children being born in Hoboken. And that the majority of them leave before they turn five.
I was interviewed by Robbie Whelan for his Wall Street Journal article, and I provided him with contact information for a couple of families who recently left Hoboken. It was pretty clear from our conversation that he was looking for a family that left Hoboken entirely because of the schools. Since Mr. Whelan did not cite any former Hobokenites, I do not think he found the answers he was seeking.
So why do families leave Hoboken?
As the start of the school year approaches, I have been reconnecting with the 1,300 parents in the Metro Moms Network. And many of them have left Hoboken.
Leaving Hoboken usually unfolds in the following stages:
- Family is living in one- or two-bedroom apartment.
- Family starts looking at three-bedroom properties in Hoboken.
- Family discovers there is very little inventory available (currently 28 three-bedrooms on the market)
- The inventory is extremely expensive (average asking price is $969,000)
- Family starts looking in suburbs with good school districts.
I asked several families how much schools factored into the decision to leave, and I got two answers. Answer #1 was, “We were going to have to leave anyway before high school, so we might as well leave now.” Answer #2 was, “We never got that far. Because Hoboken homes were so far out of reach, we did not get to the point where schools factored into the decision to stay or go.”
Reviewing census data from 2000 to 2010, it is clear that the Hoboken population has changed dramatically in the toddler category. The overall population increased 30% and the number of children ages 0-5 has tripled (1,232 in 2000 versus 3,388 in 2010). In the meantime, the proportion of children ages 5-9 is virtually unchanged (2.9% in 2000 versus 2.6% in 2010).
In a nutshell, Hoboken has experienced enormous growth in popularity among young families. The numbers remain very similar from 2000 to 2010 in all other age categories except one – there was a 26.1% decrease in adults ages 25-34.
What do all these numbers mean? Your guess is as good as mine.
8/31 Update: Hoboken Board of Ed member Irene Sobolov has responded here.
9/25 Update: From 2000 to 2010 there was actually a net increase in the 5-9 year old group, from 1,125 kids to 1,323. The reason why Hoboken got the extreme ratio of 39/100 for children over 5:under 5 was because of the much larger increase in children ages 0-5.
Hoboken properties grew from 19,915 to 26,855, a 30% increase. And the size of all those new properties? Overwhelmingly two-bedroom owner-occupied condos. The ethnic makeup of Hoboken also changed from 2000 to 2010. The only two groups that increased? Whites and Asians.
Want to meet other young families? Come to the Metro Moms Network’s Healthy & Green Halloween bash on Saturday 10/27. Tickets are free until 9/30 (while supplies last).