“I like to think of it as choice ready, which is to say I think every kid needs to graduate with very high levels of reading, writing, quantitative, social and civic skills,” shares Cami Anderson, co-founder of ROADS, a network of charter high schools dedicated to court-involved youth, and former superintendent of schools, first overseeing alternative high schools and programs serving 90,000 young adults in New York City and then supporting 45,000 pre-K–12 students in Newark, New Jersey.
“… I think we have to be very real [about] 21st century jobs – only one in five jobs in 2020 is going to be available to folks without a post-secondary degree,” Cami continues as she discusses the importance of ensuring that all students are learning both college-ready and life-ready skills. “So, if we want folks to be life ready, to have access to economic freedom, justice, and all those things, and even the ability to thrive in 21st century jobs, requires a ton of academic and hard-core content. Gone are the days when we have vocational careers, persay – I mean everyone always has one example about their cousin who is a plumber or something – but the reality is, the vast majority of jobs are going to require a level of academic knowledge. And I want all of our kids to know that, because I don’t want to make that choice for them because they happen to be growing up potentially in an economically challenged circumstance. Having said that, they also need to be passionate about what they do and know how to work through challenges, and de-escalate anger, and vote, and build a community. Obviously those skills are just as critical.”
Fast Facts about Cami
- Full name: Cami Anderson
- Years in education: Over 15 years in both traditional and non-traditional education settings
- Grades taught: Middle School
- Current position: Founder and Managing Partner, ThirdWay Solutions
- Current city: New York, NY
- Favorite resources:
- Cami Anderson: School Reform 2.0 — Educational Excellence AND Equity
- 4 Reasons Community Service Should Be Part of Every School’s Design
- On The Front Lines of The Teacher-Tenure Battle
- Resolving the Charter School Debate
- Cami Anderson Talks Ed Reform, Facebook and What ‘The Prize’ Left Out About Newark
- Boldly Breaking Patterns
- Persistence: Reflections of a Life-Long Activist
- Cami Anderson: The Left-Right School Discipline Debate Misses the Point. We Need a Third Way
- Why teach: “Every single child, regardless of what zip code they are born in, deserve to be in an amazing classroom and a good school that delivers on their genius; there’s no more important or difficult job.”
- Follow Cami on Twitter @camianderson12
Noteworthy Outtakes from Cami’s Chat
Recognized by TIME magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, Cami Anderson is a fierce advocate of high academic expectations and a well-rounded educational system that meets the needs of all students, from all walks of life.
“I think equality means everyone gets the same amount of things – teachers, money, resources, breakfast programs, etcetera – on the theory that somehow we have a level playing field already,” says Cami on the differences between equality and equity. “And so therefore the same amount of [resources] will allow everyone to achieve at the same levels.
“And we know that’s not true, our country has a very rich history of systemic racism in particular, and other -isms, that make it unfair for certain groups of folks.” Cami continues. “Equity is when you invest whatever you need to invest to make sure that every young person, in this case education, is able to perform at the highest levels academically, socially and civically. And so that means – and I am perfectly comfortable with this – some young people need more in order for them to overcome the barriers that have been placed in front of them. Not by their own choosing, but just by circumstance or zip code.”
Listen as Cami goes further in depth about this topic, her work to provide formerly incarcerated youth with quality education that leads to a High School diploma and more.
Want to learn more about Cami? Click here for her full bio.