Letter to the Editor: Parent defends diversity of Unity Charter School

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Editor’s note: The opinions expressed below are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.

March 7, 2017

Dear Morristown Green:

As the mother of a Hispanic student enrolled in the Unity Charter School, I feel compelled to respond to the offensive statements made in an article on NJ.com entitled: “Feds investigating N.J. charter school over discrimination complaint.”

This article claims a complaint has been filed insinuating several NJ Charter Schools (including Unity) are utilizing enrollment and recruitment practices which discriminate against Hispanic students and students learning English as a second language.

Unity Charter School bannerWhat the article fails to explain is that this so-called “complaint” was fueled by a Teacher’s Union-funded organization, which will stop at nothing to undermine the legitimacy of the “non-union” Charter School system in our state.

How can this organization call into question Unity’s commitment to diversity when our entire mission is founded upon a philosophy of respect and awareness of our environment, our world, and the people who inhabit it? Indeed, we (as a diverse family) specifically chose Unity because of its inclusive and welcoming environment.

In a world where people are often judged by their race, their religion, the language they speak, or the car that they drive, we wanted to find a school where our child could focus on her education and not the color of her skin. We found what we were looking for at Unity.

In this nurturing environment, the children gather every morning for a school assembly where the students and teachers alike acknowledge and thank each other for both personal and school-wide accomplishments.

In a room filled with children of every race and every creed, there is a palpable warmth and energy that fills the space. This energy then overflows into the classroom where children treat each other with respect and kindness, and diversity is exalted.

As a parent, there is nothing you want more for your child than to feel safe and secure, and to have a sense of belonging. Having adopted a Hispanic child into our part Jewish, part Evangelical, white family, we did not want our child to question where she “fit-in.”

As such, it was important for us to find a diverse school where people truly don’t see color. Where everyone is equal. Where everyone is welcome. Where being an individual is glorified and diversity is praised. Where (unlike the people behind the Charter School “complaints”) there are no hidden agendas.

One must question why this self-serving organization would risk the well-being of our children to serve their own personal plan of eliminating anyone who marches outside the Union line. Hiding behind fallacious arguments of discrimination, this organization ironically seeks nothing more than to eliminate our right to be diverse.

By casting conclusory allegations of discrimination with no factual basis, they are attempting to undermine our right to create a different or diverse learning environment free from union control. In the end, this serves no purpose but to disrupt our beautiful school and cause harm to our children.

I challenge anyone to step foot into Unity Charter School and try to demonstrate that our group is anything short of diverse including, but not limited to, our thriving Hispanic population.

At the end of the day, I simply cannot stand idly by as an organization purporting to care about the health and well-being of our children inaccurately cries “discrimination” in an effort to strip my Hispanic child (and others like her) from the supportive, empowering and culturally diverse home we know and love as The Unity Charter School. 

When the very groundwork upon which our school was created is threatened, we must come together and openly express our outrage. For ours is a commUnity built upon supporting each other, and standing up for what is right, and best for our children.

To threaten this foundation based upon the diversity principles which make our school so wonderful is tantamount to the self-serving boy who cried wolf.

Very Truly Yours,

Gayle N. Moran

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  1. Margaret B – Unity Charter School has never asked the state for a weighted lottery. This information is available from the Department of Education in an Open Public Records request. Members of the Unity community should ask themselves why the administration of the school would mislead the parents in such a way?

  2. As a parent it is important to note that there is no discrimination complaint by any state or federal department against Unity, that was a misstatement made by this page previously because it was never verified by the author. As a parent I also think it was very brave of this mother to share a very personal story. We do not all have to agree but we should be supportive of parents and all children. I know the school has asked for a weighted lottery and they were denied, it was a question at a general assembly. Thank you Mrs. Moran for voicing what so many of us felt. This school has been incredible for our son. Members of the community should visit and see what the school is really like. They have many events with the public.

  3. I would also add that while most of the socially conscious parents at Unity were probably dismayed to hear of the segregation complaint, rather than lashing out at “unions” it might be more productive to take an introspective approach. Ask what are the current recruiting practices at Unity and why do so few Hispanic, economically disadvantaged and non English speaking students apply? Many other charter schools (Hoboken, Red Bank) with significant demographic disparities have been using a weighted lottery system to pro-actively address these disparities. Why hasn’t Unity?

  4. Ms. Moran, You argue that Unity Charter School is diverse and welcoming community. I am sure that it is, and has many committed and devoted parents like yourself. But the question around the Department of Justice discrimination complaint is not “is Unity diverse?” but “is Unity as diverse as Morris School District?”. The answer is a resounding no. The state data bear this out showing that Unity consistently enrolls fewer Hispanic students (8% vs 35%) , fewer economically disadvantaged students (7% vs 34%) and has never enrolled an English Language Learner. These percentage differences make Unity one of the most segregated charter school populations in the state as compared to the home district. Charter school regulations require that schools reflect the socio -economic and racial diversity of their home district, and Unity simply does not.