Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cami Anderson Newark Education Reform

A nice profile of Newark super Cami Anderson in Fast Company:

Even though it's not in my nature, you have to just, like, take a minute, because it's a big deal." We're in Cami Anderson's private office. The Newark, New Jersey, school superintendent has just held a joint press conference with the head of the teachers' union to announce a historic contract. Half of a $100 million donation made by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to the Newark Public School system in 2010 will sweeten a new agreement with teachers, who have been working without a contract for two and a half years. There will be a new performance-evaluation system, incorporating peer review, as well as bonuses for teachers who opt out of the old seniority rules--carrots alongside sticks. The agreement is already being hailed nationwide as groundbreaking.

Anderson--41, tall, broad-shouldered, blue-eyed--sits back in her chair, pulling her hair into a ponytail. The cinder-block walls and dead-fish fluorescent lighting contribute to the vibe of a locker room after a big win. The challenge in Newark is intense: Nearly half the students drop out, and 90% of graduates who do go to college need remedial classes. For Anderson, who counts among her supporters Democratic Newark mayor Cory Booker and Republican New Jersey governor Chris Christie, the scrutiny is equally intense; Booker has announced a Senate run, and Christie is widely expected to run for President, with both likely to tout her achievements on the campaign trail. As Joel Klein, Anderson's boss when he was chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, says, "Nobody gives you $100 million and says, 'Have a happy life.'"

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