New Jersey Department of Education

Governor Chris Christie Continues Bold Education Reform Agenda for Newark Public Schools with Naming of Cami Anderson as New Superintendent

Anderson will Lead  Reform Efforts in Newark – the State’s Largest School District and the Front Line in New Jersey’s Education Reform Movement ;

For Immediate Release: Contact: Michael Drewniak
Kevin Roberts
Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 609-777-2600
For Cami Anderson: David Nachtweih

Trenton, NJ – Taking action on his commitment to implement bold education reforms in Newark and across New Jersey that put results for children first, Governor Chris Christie today named Cami Anderson of the New York City Department of Education as the next superintendent of the Newark Public Schools. The announcement marks the conclusion of a rigorous, 5-month process undertaken by the Christie Administration to identify reform-oriented candidates, seek input and feedback from educators and members of the community, and hold in-person meetings and discussions among candidates, Administration officials and key leaders from the worlds of higher education, philanthropy, civic activism and the public and charter school sectors.

“Fifteen years after the State of New Jersey took over public schools in Newark, parents and children are still waiting for the promise of real educational opportunity to materialize, and for obstacles to success to finally come to an end. After a full decade and a half, Newark and the State of New Jersey have yet to fulfill that promise, which is simply unacceptable to me, to Mayor Booker and to the parents and children of this community” said Governor Chris Christie. “I am confident that with the new leadership of Cami Anderson, a seasoned and innovative educator who has dealt with diverse groups, taught and coached teachers and most importantly, listened to the members of the community around her, we can finally get the results our children deserve and create a model for the rest of the state and nation that begins and ends with positive educational outcomes. 

“Cami’s strong, visionary leadership will make an impact starting on day one, and I thank her for taking on this challenge and opportunity to affect meaningful change.  I also want to thank Rochelle Hendricks and Deborah Terrell for their leadership during the transition, and Mayor Booker, Shavar Jeffries and the School Advisory Board, and Dr. Clement Price and the Newark Public School Task Force, as well as the dozens of other leaders in the community who have stepped up and participated in this process. Working together, I believe we will finally accomplish real reform and positive change for the children of this city, and in communities across our state where opportunity is lost and hope is desperately needed,” concluded Governor Christie.

The process for Anderson’s selection as superintendent was built on transparency, community involvement and real input from educators. The selection process, begun in January, for finding a qualified, dedicated superintendent was broad, thorough and staged, in order to allow for significant community input throughout the process. The first stage began in January when Acting Education Commissioner Cerf solicited names of top candidates in conversations with national reform leaders and local community leaders. The second stage was to seek sound input and guidance from members of the community on critical education reform issues and ongoing and emergent challenges that would face the incoming superintendent.  The final stage of this process provided for local leaders to meet face to face with prospective candidates, prior to a final selection being made by Governor Christie and Acting Education Commissioner Cerf.

“I am honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to lead Newark Public Schools, and looking forward to serving the families and children of Newark,” said Anderson. “Every child in this city deserves access to a great education, and I promise to work tirelessly to ensure that we realize that goal during my tenure in Newark.”

Cami Anderson has most recently served as the superintendent of Alternative High Schools and Programming for the New York City Department of Education. District 79, as it is also known, operates 300 public schools and serves 30-40,000 K-12 students and 50-60,000 adults annually who have experienced challenges in completing school due to a variety of factors, including incarceration, drug use, poverty or academic challenges. District 79 provides these at-risk students with the services and programs needed to complete public school and receive their high school diploma.

Under Anderson’s leadership, District 79 completely overhauled its alternative GED program and launched several new initiatives aimed at helping overage but under credited teens and adults earn their diploma. Anderson was also instrumental in shutting down a program in the city’s schools that removed pregnant students from the classroom and hindered their education.  Anderson’s efforts to help at-risk students stay in the classroom were major contributors to New York City’s rising graduation rates and declining drop-out rates of the past five years. 

Previously, Anderson served as Executive Director of Teach For America at a critical time in its growth. She founded a board of business and education leaders, represented the organization at policy forums, increased funding by over 300%, and launched Teach For America Week - an event which brings influential people from all walks of life to teach for a day. She managed the professional development and evaluation of more than 500 teachers in over 90 schools. Under Anderson’s leadership, the organization doubled in size.   

“We have an opportunity today to build on the reform already underway in Newark and drive real, lasting change throughout our public school system that will benefit Newark’s children – and we now have an excellent leader who will ensure we take full advantage of this chance,” said Acting Education Commissioner Chris Cerf. “We are excited to have Cami joining Newark Public Schools and know that her leadership will be a tremendous benefit to Newark’s children.”

“Cami Anderson brings leadership, ingenuity, a commitment to underserved children, and a proven ability to work with diverse communities to Newark, and she will be a tireless champion for our children,” said Mayor Cory Booker. “I look forward to working closely with Cami to help ensure that our schools serve the genius of every child in our city.”

Dr. Clement Price, Chair of the Newark Public School’s Task Force, commented on the process which began weeks ago and involved a diverse group of stewards representing the educational community, civic organizations, parents and the public school system. “Members of the task force represented the rich complexity and diversity of the Newark Public School arena and were diligently involved in the process to select the next superintendent.  While we met with several qualified and exceptional candidates, in the end, Cami is the right person for this job.  She is a team leader who has familiarity dealing with a diversity of opinions and perspectives to get real, tangible results.  And most importantly, she has the proven credentials and tireless drive to implement a long-overdue reform agenda in our schools at a time when improving Newark’s public education system is a priority for not only the members of the community, but the mayor, the governor and even the nation.”

The Christie Administration has taken numerous, proactive steps to ensure that every opportunity for reform and progress is seized and that progress continues in Newark, even while the selection of a new superintendent was underway. Rochelle Hendricks, who recently served as Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education, provided critical leadership with interim-superintendent Deborah Terrell for the Newark Public Schools during the transition period. 

The State Board of Education must now review and approve Anderson’s selection.

A copy of Anderson’s biography is attached to the release as a PDF file.

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