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National Model Seen

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Despite the questions that have arisen about the school's place in Chicago's education-reform efforts, its leaders ultimately want to see their model implemented nationally. A Corporate/Community Schools of America office has been set up here apart from the school. A national advisory board advises on strategies to spread adoption of the model.

Mr. Mootry said corporations from several major cities have gotten in touch with the office, and he estimated that more than 1,500 business leaders, politicians, educators, and other interested individuals have visited the school.

Mr. Ayers of the University of Illinois expressed doubt that education is about to be rocked by a revolution that will make corporate models the norm. Mr. Kellman and others who view waste and bureaucracy as the barriers to good education, Mr. Ayers suggested, may be surprised to learn just how complex education can be.

Referring to a widely publicized book on school choice by John E. Chubb and Terry M. Moe, Mr. Ayers said, "In a sense, [the Corporate/Community School] has the same flaw as the Chubb and Moe approach," which identifies free competition between public and private schools as the key to reducing bureaucratic constraints on education and boosting student achievement.

"They've identified one thing very well, and they're right, but they're not right enough," Mr. Ayers continued. "They haven't captured the complexity of why urban schools fail."

Mr. Reed questioned the school's ability to sustain itself financially, and asserted that some of the school's corporate sponsors would like to see it ultimately become part of the public system. But, with the private school's higher staff salaries, he said, that might not be possible.

Whatever its eventual fate, the school has already earned high marks from those who are perhaps its staunchest supporters: the parents.

"There are very supportive people here," said Diane Gray, who attends adult-education classes at the school and has a 9-year-old son, Tyshauwn, enrolled. "The home life between my son and I has come a very long way. I think the school has made an outstanding mark on the community."

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