The Impact of Special Needs Students On Hoboken Public Schools

Thank you to everyone who posted feedback after my recent post about the impact of special needs students on the Hoboken public schools. I have learned a tremendous amount about special needs students since writing my post and the myriad and complicated challenges they face as they navigate the education system. I am so sorry if I offended anyone. Through the feedback I have received, it is clear that I did a poor job of making my case and laying out my assumptions. I also made a couple of factual errors and used an inappropriate metaphor and terminology. I’ll attempt to set the record straight: I said, in reference to the high student spending, ” the 100 lb gorilla that nobody is talking about? Special needs students.” Some readers mistakenly thought that I was comparing special needs students to gorillas. This could not be further from the truth. I meant to say that the cost associated with educating special needs students is an important factor in analyzing and understanding the public school budgets. I erroneously used the term “normal” to refer to non-special needs students. The proper term is “typical.” Some readers have questioned my statement that “up to 50% of students in a class are special needs” saying that implies that entire grades in Hoboken schools are 50% special needs. I meant to say that up to 50% of students in an individual classroom are special needs, in some cases. In fact, since writing the article, I have learned that some individual classrooms have 100% special needs since their IEP calls for an enclosed classroom. Some readers have taken my article to mean that I am against providing a comprehensive education to special needs students or I would seek to push those costs down. On the contrary, every special needs child is entitled to – and deserves – a free and appropriate education that meets the unique needs of his or her IEP. Each IEP is created by a child study team consisting of a school psychologist, educational evaluator, speech therapist, social worker, guidance counselor, classroom teacher and in some cases, occupational therapist and physical therapist. Numerous people have asked me whether I had a political agenda when writing my article. I am not affiliated with any political candidates for any office, including Hoboken mayor, council or school board. Again, I apologize for the pain I have caused special needs families by my errors and failure to spend the time to make sure my points were crystal clear. My intention was to shed some light on the high per student spending in Hoboken public schools.   I have...

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Saving Children From Sandy One Year Later
Oct29

Saving Children From Sandy One Year Later

By Kathy Zucker • Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Hurricane Sandy hit New York and New Jersey exactly one year ago today, leaving families displaced and ongoing infrastructure issues that will be unfolding for years to come. Another major impact? Children. Kids in Staten Island, the Rockaways and the Jersey Shore lost all their possessions and in many cases, their daycares were also destroyed. One year later, many kids have vivid memories of the storm. How can we help protect the most vulnerable in our society from the next big storm? You can find checklists to keep your family safe, find out about what your state is doing to get ready, and learn how to help others at Save the Children website. To commemorate the one year anniversary of Sandy, New Jersey Performing Arts Center (@NJPAC) is hosting a live screening tonight of the Emmy-winning film Splinters and Sand, along with artwork and discussion with community leaders. Tickets are free and there are still some available at the NJPAC website. More – Take Your Kids – or Mom – To Work Day at News12 NJ Kathy Zucker, CEO of Metro Moms Network, mother of three young children and New York Life Keep Good Going Shorty Award winner and judge, writes about juggling career and family in an urban setting. Read her MomCondoLiving blog, follow her on Twitter (@KathyZucker), friend her on Facebook and watch her on...

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Grieving in Hoboken For the Brooklyn Zhuo Family
Oct27

Grieving in Hoboken For the Brooklyn Zhuo Family

By Kathy Zucker • Sunday, October 27, 2013 My tears are falling on my keyboard as I write this. I returned home from pumpkin picking earlier today with my three children – ages 7, 5 and 1 – and went through the evening routine of bath, bottles and bed. Afterwards, I dished up my own dinner and settled in to eat and read the news on my tablet. My first stop was at the New York Times. This article jumped out at me from the homepage. And that is when the food turned to ash in my mouth. Tonight, a father who should be watching his children breathe deeply in slumber is sobbing with grief while they lie in the Brooklyn morgue. Linda, 9; Amy, 7; Kevin, 5; and William, 1 will never hug their father again, never read another bedtime story, never squabble over toys and have to be separated. Even worse, their mother lies in the morgue beside them so there is no one to share Mr. Zhuo’s agony. I grew up blocks from the home where the Zhuo kids took their last breaths. I eat and shop at stores around the corner whenever I yum cha with my family – who all live in Brooklyn – or pick up Chinese choy. My children are the exact same ages. This Tuesday, I am scheduled to take my youngest to get a flu shot at the Brooklyn pediatrician who has cared for two generations of my family. Tonight, hug your children extra hard. Because this is all this dad has left of his. A pic of 2 of the 4 kids stabbed to death in #sunsetpark last night. The dad released this to me mins ago @News12BK pic.twitter.com/52Yt9x2a88 — John Dias (@JohnBDias) October 27, 2013 Kathy Zucker, CEO of Metro Moms Network, mother of three young children and New York Life Keep Good Going Shorty Award winner and judge, writes about juggling career and family in an urban setting. Read her MomCondoLiving blog, follow her on Twitter (@KathyZucker), friend her on Facebook and watch her on...

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Hoboken Hot House Opens Its Doors in the Southwest
Oct17

Hoboken Hot House Opens Its Doors in the Southwest

By Kathy Zucker • Thursday, October 17, 2013 Hoboken Patch recently published an article showing the average family size in Hoboken. The section with the largest families? The south west, where I reside with my three children, ages 7, 5 and 1. There is a decided dearth of retail in the south west. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which hit this area especially hard, several retailers have closed, including Vera Florists and J & D Provisions. The storefronts remain shuttered almost one year after Sandy, with no sign of incipient revival. So when I saw renovations begin on a dilapidated garage on Second Street, I didn’t think much of it. Two months ago, the solid garage door was replaced with a clear glass one, through which new and exciting developments could be seen. From vintage furniture to shelves for plants, the location took on a decidedly upscale tone. At the same time, the former architecture office located on the corner of Second and Monroe also underwent refurbishment, with glass cases indicating it would be a café. Last week, signs appeared on the cafe storefront naming the locations “Hoboken Hothouse” and “A’Putia Café” and curious southwest Hoboken residents began stopping by on a daily basis, asking about the opening dates. I happened to visit on a day when owner Karen Nason was available to give me a tour. I was shocked and delighted to discover the garage and café are connected in the back by a communal bamboo garden, where Ms. Nason has installed a mural and cafe seating. Her intention? To create a concert space where up to 50 people can be seated indoors and out for gatherings such as cooking and art classes, and evening jazz and wine sessions. With hours from 6am to 9pm seven days a week, Light Rail commuters can grab a frothy coffee and Sicilian pastry on their way to work, making way for work-at-home residents to meet for lunch and free wi-fi. Also? Ms. Nason intends to keep the garage door open during the winter, with outdoor heaters keeping the air at a comfortable temperature, similar to Aspen retailers during ski season. Families can stop by for a cup of hot chocolate after shoveling snow, and reserve a spot in after school art class. The official opening is tonight, and my neighbors and I are in mutual agreement – the arrival of Hoboken Hot House can be nothing but beneficial to the community. Opening Thurs 10/17 in SW #Hoboken – #NYC Sicilian pastry maker @AputiaNY + Hot House Hoboken furniture. pic.twitter.com/hL6enYzjbP — Kathy Zucker (@kathyzucker) October 11, 2013   Update, 10/18/13: Eight-time...

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Stuck and Then Staying – Hoboken Family Update
Oct16

Stuck and Then Staying – Hoboken Family Update

By Kathy Zucker • Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 Everywhere you go in Hoboken, NJ, you see kids with helmets on scooters, parents in tow. Many of these kids? Are surprisingly large. Renowned nationwide for its population aged 0-5, Hoboken is no longer just for babies. The data behind the Wall Street Journal article showing everyone leaves Hoboken is now four years old, and second graders all over Hoboken are having a tough time finding desirable school spots. The real estate market is booming, with sale inventory at a record low and construction growing. If housing has recovered from its recession low – even after being severely impacted by a major hurricane – why aren’t more families selling and leaving Hoboken? Sometimes, when you face your worst fears – in this instance, not having the perfect house in the perfect school district – you find reality is just fine. Why families are staying in #Hoboken – got stuck during recession, now used to living in 2BR. via @HobokenREnews pic.twitter.com/ciDBvGrg2l — Kathy Zucker (@kathyzucker) October 16, 2013 More – Preschool Population Explosion – Washington DC and Hoboken NJ Kathy Zucker, CEO of Metro Moms Network, mother of three young children and New York Life Keep Good Going Shorty Award winner and judge, writes about juggling career and family in an urban setting. Read her MomCondoLiving blog, follow her on Twitter (@KathyZucker), friend her on Facebook and watch her on...

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Hoboken Mom of the Week #4 – Connector Cathy Tennaro
Oct14

Hoboken Mom of the Week #4 – Connector Cathy Tennaro

By Kathy Zucker • Monday, October 14th, 2013 I often get called the most connected mom in Hoboken, NJ, but that title rightfully belongs to Cathy Tennaro. A former sales executive who began staying home when her company offered a buyout, everywhere you go you see her pushing a stroller with three red pony-tailed girls in tow. A Girl Scout troop leader and tireless organizer of school bake sales and fundraisers, Cathy shares cheerful greetings with at least three people on every block. Like the Pied Piper, Cathy can add dozens of engaged people to Facebook conversations within minutes of the first message. In addition to caring for three children in preschool and elementary grades, Cathy runs a business selling handmade wine cork wreaths. With her youngest child now attending Abbott preschool, Hoboken school kids will soon benefit from her upbeat attitude and corporate smarts since she has answered the call to fill a dire need for public school substitute teachers. What better way to celebrate Columbus Day than to salute the mom who cheerfully and unflinchingly faces great hurdles and and keeps her family and community moving forward every day? People call me the most connected mom in #Hoboken, NJ, but that title rightfully belongs to Cathy Tennaro. pic.twitter.com/skjOVCPBDZ — Kathy Zucker (@kathyzucker) October 14, 2013   More – Trick or Treat and See the Latest Fall Fashions this Saturday 10/19 in Hoboken, NJ Kathy Zucker, CEO of Metro Moms Network, mother of three young children and New York Life Keep Good Going Shorty Award winner and judge, writes about juggling career and family in an urban setting. Read her MomCondoLiving blog, follow her on Twitter (@KathyZucker), friend her on Facebook and watch her on...

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