Posted: April 16, 2015

 Chuck.jpg recently interviewed candidates running for the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board. Three seats on the Board will be filled in the April 21 election. Below are excerpts from the interview with Charles Love III.


ECP: Tell me a little bit about yourself and why you’re running?

Charles Love: I grew up in the city of Newark and I am a fourth-generation Newarker. My family came here in 1929 from Alabama and Georgia. They were sharecroppers. I grew up in the South Central Ward on the borderline of the south and central. My grandfather was a black nationalist and longshoreman. He helped organize the march on Washington. My grandmother was an opera singer. I come from a family of educators and activists who've always been involved in the community. After the riots, my family fell on hard times, and my grandfather passed away in 1975. My mother suffered from drug addiction and alcoholism, and I lived in a welfare hotel at one point in time. My mother had two brothers; one was gunned down and murdered when I was 11. I also have uncles who were in prison.

How did you wind up running for the School Board instead of going to prison?

Charles Love: My grandmother raised me for the most part of my life. She had a lot of old-school values and taught me to stand up for what I believe in. My grandmother also had a switch. And I was the oldest. My uncle who was murdered was like an older brother. He told me to go to school and encouraged me not to be like him. He consistently kept me on the right path. In 1993, when he was killed, it shattered my life and I lost my hero. But I knew in the back of my mind that he would not be happy about me getting in trouble. With him gone, I felt that I was now the man of the family. I had a younger brother who was the opposite of me, and he went to prison and did about 10 years jail. I felt that being the oldest grandson I had a responsibility to do better.


ECP: Did you finish your education?

Charles Love: I had my bumps in the road. I wasn't perfect; I went to a couple of schools. But I did complete my education. I received my Master’s degree in human services, and currently I'm working on a PhD.


ECP: What are your specific qualifications for being on the School Advisory Board?

Charles Love: Growing up in the South Central ward, I've been involved in a lot of movements. This meant knowing the different families and children. I also worked in the school system as a teacher’s assistant for almost 13 years, and I was a substitute teacher in New Jersey. What qualifies me is that I understand the heartbeat of the city. I understand what is driving these children to go off course. I understand there’s a disconnect with the parent, and a disconnect with parent engagement. There is no system alignment and not enough resources. Even if a child has a good parent who is interested, the parent still has to know how to align the various parts of the school system and the available resources. This is hard for most parents.


ECP: If you are elected, what do you hope to achieve during your term on the Board?

Charles Love: I hope to educate the parents of the city as well as the Board members who may not have a background of program evaluation. We have Board meetings, and many people are frustrated they don't understand how this system actually works. They understand that maybe there may be a plan in place to do something, but they’re frustrated and disgruntled because they don’t understand that we have to follow process to achieve it. We also have to stop selling out the city for political games and political friendships.


ECP: What are the challenges facing the Board in the coming years?

Charles Love: Preparing our children to deal in a digital world and be competitive. Providing resources like computers and other technology so that our children have opportunities to succeed. And leveling the playing field.


ECP: What would you specifically do to improve the operations of the Board?

Charles Love: The most important thing is to improve community engagement. You have to engage parents. I think in most cases it's impossible to engage the child without engaging the entire family.


ECP: What do you mean by engagement? Open meetings?

Charles Love: One thing is that we have Board meetings and nobody knows about them. It's almost like a secret interest group. We have Robo calls to announce the weather report and if schools might be closing, but we don't have a way of mass communicating to the residents that there is a budget meeting. I think parents care, but they are not made aware.


ECP: Is there no regulation to announce Board meetings?

Charles Love: Yes, we have the sunshine law. But I think in some cases, only a minimal amount is being done to notify the community. The levels of engagement at the traditional public schools and the public charter schools are different. My son is in a public charter school and my fiancée has two children in a traditional public school, and the difference is very clear. The public charter school has found a way to engage the parents while the traditional public school continues to fail. Parents must become advocates for their own children.


ECP: Given the fact that the One Newark plan is here, how can public schools and charter schools work most effectively together?

Charles Love: I think the concept of One Newark is a great idea, but the rollout was horrendous. I believe in the idea of creating equity. I believe traditional schools are failing. Options must exist to allow parents the opportunity to give their children a chance.


ECP: How do you keep traditional public schools from becoming a dumping ground for poor-performing students?

Charles Love: What we first have to understand is the research behind the design of One Newark. What are the metrics? What should be the factors for determining the needs of the most at-risk children? Transportation, safety, and cost all must be considered. Bottom line: there must be an understanding of the cultural identity of Newark.


ECP: How would you work with fellow Board members who may not see things the same way you do?

Charles Love: I would hope that we could all sit down and objectively review data and allow the data to be the driving force for all of the decisions that we make.


ECP: How would you respond to the concerns of parents and teachers who have concerns about the One Newark plan?

Charles Love: I would tell parents and teachers that the delivery system that delivers public education has failed and that we have to fix it. I'm not trying to destroy public education. I'm trying to help it.

I will tell teachers that in spirit I understand their concerns about tenure loss, but we all understand that there are some bad teachers. We need to reach a middle ground so that we can more effectively weed out the bad teachers and support and encourage the good teachers. We want to ensure that all the schools will provide an excellent product for parents searching for quality educational options for their children.


ECP: What advice would you give to Cami Anderson?

Charles Love: I believe that Cami turned a lot of people off by not coming to the community and having open and transparent dialogue. I would tell her to show up and come to the meetings. Newark is a tough city. They are the descendants of the folks that burned the city down. They are frustrated, confused, and just want answers.


ECP: Is there an achievement gap in Newark?

Charles Love: Yes. Some wards in Newark have cohesive communities. Because those communities are engaged, their children are more likely to achieve. There is less of a community in other wards, and their children suffer more and achieve less.


ECP: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Charles Love: When I say “believe in love,” I don't mean believe in me, but rather believe in your children. Believe in the underdog. I want to ensure that all of our children are prepared and able to compete for the jobs that are coming down the pipe. And the ability to compete is directly tied to closing the achievement gap and educating our kids. I want them to be qualified to get jobs that will help sustain their families.

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commented 2015-04-16 14:42:20 -0700
Yes we gotta believe in love for the sake of our children