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Brenda Loew, publisher of an adult magazine, is hoping to unseat current Committee member Susan Heyman

July 15, 1999

By Marie Blanchard

At first glance, Upper Falls resident Brenda Loew's candidacy for School Committee looks fairly unremarkable. A certified teacher and mother of two grown children who went through the Newton Public Schools, Loew, 48, says she's running for a position on the committee because she feels "the concerns of parents are not currently being properly addressed."

But on closer inspection, Loew's resume doesn't read like most current school committee hopefuls. Though she's taught speech classes to all levels of all elementary schoolchildren and is touting the "fresh blood" and "new perspective" strategy for her campaign, the longtime Newton resident is also the publisher of an adult magazine called EIDOS - Everyone Is Doing .Outrageous Sex - which is billed as an alternative, independent magazine which aims at providing a "forum for an international community of consenting adults of all eroto-sexual orientations, preferences and lifestyles," according to the magazine's mission statement.

Loew admits that her background and professional life are somewhat of an anomaly among the more traditional mix of lawyers, consultants and stay-at-home parents who usually sit on the committee. But she says that if anything, her publication will show voters that she is open to all sorts of ideas and points of view.

"There are some [people] who would not understand what we're trying to do," said Loew in explaining the purpose of EIDOS, which has links to Playboy and other similar magazines on its Web page. "We advocate freedom of expression, freedom of the press ... but [the magazine] is a separate part of my life from anything I would do [on the board]."

Loew said she is running for the committee because she feels that the concerns of parents who have children in the Newton public schools are not being properly heeded.

"I've been hearing the same thing from parents, that there is not enough input from parents ... I do feel that there's a need for parents to vent but from what I hear, [committee members] have been there so long that parents feel they can't talk to them anymore and there are no open lines of communication."

Ironically, Brian Camenker - a proponent of eliminating sex education in the Newton Public School Department - offered to have the group Stand Up Newton collect signatures for Loew so she would be eligible to run for the School Committee, but he says she declined after they spoke for a little more than an hour on the phone.

Camenker said he did not know that Loew published an adult magazine, but that he welcomed any citizen who challenged the status quo of the school committee.

"Anyone could do a better job [than the current members]," said Camenker, adding that offering to collect signatures for people did not amount to a Stand Up Newton endorsement.

Heyman, the incumbent Ward 5 school committee member who will run against Loew in November, said that she did not believe that Loew's magazine should be an issue in the upcoming election.

"I've never met [Loew]," said Heyman, "but I want to make it very clear that I want to talk to about relevant issues [in this election] and to talk about issues having to do with the Newton schools ... it really is up to other people to determine [what they think of Loew's magazine]."

Loew is pitching herself as a "fresh voice" in a committee where most of the eight members will not be eligible to run again in 2000 because of a four consecutive term committee limit. She also said that her commitment to freedom of speech will be an attribute in the race since she's willing to listen to any side of a story.

"Although I am diametrically opposed to everything [Stand Up Newton] stands for, I do not believe in censorship ... I would listen to anything they have to say," said Loew who is a proponent of sexual education in the schools.

If elected as a member of the committee, Loew said she is interested in looking at the way the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test is being administered because she feels that it is done in a non-uniform way which can ultimately be unfair to students.

"Not all students are getting tested on the same subject at the same time," said Loew of the test.

Another priority for Loew will be funding for special education in the public schools. Her own son was diagnosed with mild Attention Deficit Disorder when he was at Newton South, and she feels he did [not?] receive adequate support from the school which eventually led to him dropping out of the school before graduation.

Loew says overall she still doesn't know enough about all the issues to put together a concrete platform on what exactly she wants to focus on if she wins, but she says she's eager to get input from parents who feel their opinions have been neglected in the past.

And for the meantime, Loew is hoping that her quarterly publication will not have too large an influence on the election since she says that many of the goals of EIDOS are fairly noncontroversial and complement the views held by many in the school system.

"We advocate freedom of expression, freedom of the press, separation of the church and state and a tolerance for diversity," Loew explained of her magazine.

Copyright 1995-1999, Community Newspaper Company. All rights reserved.

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