Before his wife passed away, Van-Ness Crawford promised her he would do everything he could to help their children lead successful lives. That's a daunting task when you believe your kids are attending one of the worst high schools in the state. Gayle talks to Van-Ness about the approach he is taking to ensure a positive educational experience for his children.
Van-Ness says the Newark, New Jersey, high school that his 16-year-old triplet sons attend is failing, with more than 80 percent of the students failing math. He is the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that alleges that children in particular schools in New Jersey are being deprived of a "thorough and efficient" education, as required under the state constitution. "The basis for asserting that is their performance on standardized assessment exams that are given at these schools and mandated by the state," says Julio Gomez, Van-Ness's attorney. "Because so many children are failing these exams at these particular schools, it is our position that they are not receiving the education that they are required to receive under the state constitution."
Van-Ness says the lawsuit asks that parents of children attending failing schools be given their share of public funds spent on their children and use it to pay for them to attend a school of their choice. In Newark, the public school system spends about $17,000 per student, he says.
"If you take your car to get fixed and you've already paid for it and it's not fixed—you want your money back so you can take it somewhere else," Van-Ness says. "Basically, that's what I'm trying to do here. The children are not being educated properly."