That is the primary in a sequence of profiles on the 2020 Camden Faculty Advisory Board candidates forward of the upcoming November elections.
CAMDEN, NJ — Camden college board candidate Theo Spencer, 44, is a product of his metropolis — dwelling on the identical two Haddon Avenue blocks since he was born.
As a scholar of Parkside Elementary Faculty, Spencer examined into the gifted in gifted program earlier than he headed to Camden Excessive Faculty.
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His storied journey took him to Howard College the place he wrote a column for The Hilltop underneath acclaimed creator and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates. In 2006, he would additionally pursue an MBA in 2006 from Tulane College.
Quick-forward to as we speak and Spencer is the vice chairman for one of many largest banks on the planet. Previous to that, he labored for Bank of America, the Wall Street Journal — along with instructing stints at Rutgers-Camden and Camden County School.
“I was in the first class of kids in Camden that were a beneficiary of Abbott. At the time I remember there were only two gifted and talented programs in the whole city,” Spencer stated in an interview with TAPinto Camden.
Abbott districts had been fashioned in 1985 on account of the courtroom curling Abbott v. Burke, filed by the Training Legislation Middle – that dominated that public major and secondary training in poor communities all through New Jersey had been unconstitutional. The following Abbott II ruling 5 years later ordered state funding to 28 districts, together with Camden, on the common degree of the Backyard State’s wealthiest college districts.
“A lot of the kids that are success stories in the city of Camden, a lot of them I believe came through as a result of Abbott funding,” Spencer stated. “The thing though, many can find there’s really nothing left in Camden for us to come back to and pour back into the system.”
Spencer says that upon his return to town from faculty he was both unsuccessful at touchdown a job with one of many city-based companies or the wage he was supplied was lower than he’d obtain elsewhere.
Though his disenchantment extends to different issues, reminiscent of housing stock within the metropolis, his efforts this fall shall be centered on turning the tide in the case of training.
Spencer is one among seven candidates who’s working for 3 open spots on the Camden Faculty Advisory Board. He’s the one candidate who will not be working on a slate with others – his slogan: “Restore the Board.”
If elected Spencer wouldn’t be in unfamiliar territory.
He was appointed to the Camden college board by Mayor Gwen Faison in 2007 and served till 2010, again when the board had voting powers and didn’t act in an advisory capability to the superintendent.
Spencer is frank when discussing the present 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 need to actively engage in getting the power for the school district back, as simple as that,” Spencer stated.
Spencer — who has additionally beforehand run for mayor and Metropolis Council — was first motivated to vie for the varsity board final yr, when elections returned to town for the primary time in a number of years. Again then, like this yr, he labored to struggle for extra citizen empowerment.
“I don’t look at restoring 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 good place,” Spencer stated. “The state can take it back at any time too, so the first thing you have to do is develop a means to evaluate the district and the superintendent.”
Mentioned analysis would come with such inquiries as: How is the superintendent assembly the wants of the district? What are the priorities of Camden faculties?
One want look no additional to realize perception about Spencer’s way of thinking than his bookshelf. There, tattered ebook jackets embody, “No Ashes in the Fire” by his good friend and former classmate Darnell Moore, “Between the World and Me” by Coates, and metropolis staples like “Camden After the Fall” by Howard Gillette Jr.
Spencer is anxious with studying from the previous to tell the long run and pondering of Camden within the long-term.
However he says he’s additionally conscious of the district’s extra well timed wants.
“As a technologist, I’m fully aware of the challenges of a remote learning situation,” he continued. “I think of my job right now. When I log onto my bank workspace, somebody at the bank knows I’m logging on. They know what I’m working on and have some idea of my productivity level. Is something like that happening with our teachers, our students?”
He added, “It’s all about accountability.”
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