Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Profile of Cami Anderson, Newark Schools Superintendent

A nice profile of Cami Anderson in EducationNext by Peter Meyer (who did a similar profile of me a year ago):

This California blond is clearly not your ordinary educator, which could be the best thing that has happened to the perennially failing Newark Public Schools (NPS) since—well, perhaps, ever. The state took over the district in 1995, to little effect. With 75 schools and almost 40,000 students, Newark is the largest district in New Jersey, and with graduation rates hovering just about 50 percent, one of the most troubled. Enrollment is down some 9,000 students since 2001. As the New York Times reported when Anderson took over, in June of 2011, “Cami Anderson faces the monumental task of rescuing an urban school system that has long been mired in low achievement, high turnover and a culture of failure, despite decades of state intervention.”

It was, said the Times, with exquisite understatement, “the ultimate high-risk opportunity.”
Even with the popular and smart Newark mayor Cory Booker on her side and a $100 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, she’ll need all the help she can get. As even Chris Christie, the take-no-prisoners Garden State governor, said at the press conference announcing Anderson’s appointment, “It took us a long time to get to where we are now [in Newark], and no leader, no matter how good, is going to be able to turn this around overnight.”

It would have been hard to find anyone disagreeing with the blunt-spoken governor on that one.
“Judge me by my actions,” Anderson said at the time. “Let me roll up my sleeves and dive in. Then we’ll talk.”

And talk we did, last May, just as Anderson was finishing her first year on the job. “The first year of anything is tough because you’re saying, ‘Trust me. Trust me. Trust me,’” she said. “But you haven’t really had time to, ‘Show me. Show me. Show me.’”

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