This is the very first in a series of profiles on the 2020 Camden School Advisory Board candidates ahead of the upcoming November elections.
CAMDEN, NJ– Camden school board candidate Theo Spencer, 44, is a product of his city– surviving on the same two Haddon Avenue blocks because he was born.
As a student of Parkside Elementary School, Spencer checked into the gifted in skilled program prior to he headed to Camden High School.
His storied journey took him to Howard University where he wrote a column for The Hilltop under well-known author and reporter Ta-Nehisi Coates. In 2006, he would likewise pursue an MBA in 2006 from Tulane University.
Fast-forward to today and Spencer is the vice president for one of the largest banks on the planet. Prior to that, he worked for Bank of America, the Wall Street Journal– in addition to teaching stints at Rutgers-Camden and Camden County College.
“I was in the first class of kids in Camden that were a recipient of Abbott. At the time I remember there were just 2 talented and talented programs in the entire city,” Spencer said in an interview with TAPinto Camden.
Abbott districts were formed in 1985 as a result of the court curling Abbott v. Burke, submitted by the Education Law Center – that ruled that public primary and secondary education in bad communities throughout New Jersey were unconstitutional. The subsequent Abbott II ruling five years later ordered state funding to 28 districts, including Camden, at the typical level of the Garden State's wealthiest school districts.
“A great deal of the kids that are success stories in the city of Camden, a great deal of them I believe came through as an outcome of Abbott funding,” Spencer said. “The thing however, many can discover there's truly absolutely nothing left in Camden for us to come back to and pour back into the system.”
Spencer states that upon his go back to the city from college he was either not successful at landing a job with among the city-based corporations or the income he was offered was less than he ‘d get elsewhere.
Although his disenchantment reaches other matters, such as real estate stock in the city, his efforts this fall will be concentrated on turning the tide when it concerns education.
Spencer is one of seven prospects who is running for 3 open areas on the Camden School Advisory Board. He is the only prospect who is not working on a slate with others – his slogan: “Restore the Board.”
If chosen Spencer would not be in unknown territory.
He was selected to the Camden school board by Mayor Gwen Faison in 2007 and served until 2010, back when the board had voting powers and did not act in an advisory capability to the superintendent.
Spencer is frank when discussing the current set-up.
“Right now the Board of Education is not functioning as most of the school boards in the state. The school district, the school board members require to actively take part in getting the power for the school district back, as easy as that,” Spencer stated.
Spencer– who has likewise formerly run for mayor and City Council– was very first encouraged to vie for the school board last year, when elections returned to the city for the very first time in several years. At that time, like this year, he worked to eliminate for more person empowerment.
“I don't look at bring back the board as something that is going to be a light switch, it's probably going to be a two- or three-year effort in order to get the board in a position where we're fully in a great location,” Spencer stated. “The state can take it back at any time too, so the very first thing you have to do is develop a method to examine the district and the superintendent.”
Said examination would include such questions as: How is the superintendent satisfying the needs of the district? What are the priorities of Camden schools?
One need look no more to get insight about Spencer's frame of mind than his bookshelf. There, scruffy book jackets consist of, “No Ashes in the Fire” by his pal and former classmate Darnell Moore, “Between the World and Me” by Coates, and city staples like “Camden After the Fall” by Howard Gillette Jr.
. Spencer is concerned with learning from the past to notify the future and thinking of Camden in the long-lasting.
However he says he's likewise mindful of the district's more prompt requirements.
“As a technologist, I'm completely knowledgeable about the challenges of a remote knowing circumstance,” he continued. “I consider my task today. When I log onto my bank office, someone at the bank understands I'm going to. They understand what I'm dealing with and have some idea of my productivity level. Is something like that occurring with our teachers, our students?”
He added, “It's all about responsibility.”