Annenberg Set to Announce Round of Gifts
Nearly a year after he pledged to provide $500 million to the nation's public schools, the philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg is getting ready to announce where a big portion of that money will go.
Mr. Annenberg is expected to announce in the next two weeks that he will provide up to $50 million each to the Los Angeles and Chicago metropolitan areas. He may also provide as much as $50 million for rural schools.
In a White House ceremony last December, the retired publisher and diplomat announced the first $115 million in gifts to three national organizations--the Education Commission of the States, the New American Schools Development Corporation, and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, a group created a few months earlier at Brown University. (See Education Week, 01/12/94.)
"I think it's slower than one might hope, but given the complexity of it, all of us are very encouraged by how this is moving," Theodore R. Sizer, the president of the Annenberg Institute, said last week.
In September, the Annenberg Foundation promised $25 million to the New York Networks for School Renewal, an alliance of four groups working to reform education in New York City. It also pledged up to $25 million for other unspecified education initiatives to "reinforce and complement" the New York group's work. Both grants are contingent upon the recipients' raising matching funds of $2 for every $1 donated by Mr. Annenberg. The groups can begin drawing on the money as they receive the matching grants.
A coalition of education, business, and civic leaders in Philadelphia, led by Superintendent David W. Hornbeck, also has submitted a draft proposal that could bring millions of dollars to that city's public schools. A similar group is working on a proposal in Detroit, and in San Francisco a coalition is trying to convince Mr. Annenberg that it should be invited to submit a proposal. A plan to provide funding in New England is on hold.
Rural Schools a New Focus
Mr. Annenberg had intended to focus his largess primarily on schools in big cities and their suburbs. But rural educators and funders have convinced his advisers that the problems in rural communities are equally pressing and that the resources to address them are slight.
In a letter to Mr. Sizer, Paul Olson, the president of the Blandin Foundation in Grand Rapids, Minn., pointed out that high dropout rates, poverty, and violence are increasingly common in rural areas.
About 17 percent of the nation's school-age population attends rural schools, according to the U.S. Education Department.
Mr. Olson received a reply encouraging the development of a rural proposal. In October, a group of about 15 educators and foundation officials with an interest in rural issues met in Providence, R.I., to talk about what such a proposal might look like.
A final draft was still being written last week. It is expected to stress how rural schools can take advantage of the distinctive character of their communities and the creation of small schools. The proposal also will emphasize the formation of networks that could spread successful models of rural education.
At least three regional, broadly representative coalitions--made up of states in the South, the Northeast, and the North Central region--are raising matching funds and drafting plans for their areas. There also will be an at-large region to address the needs of such populations as Native Americans and bilingual students and those who attend very small, isolated schools.
An 'Endangered Species'
"We want more leeway for rural schools to take initiative for their own futures," said Jack Shelton, the director of the Program for Rural Services and Research at the University of Alabama and a member of the steering committee for the Southern region. "My dream is that it would coalesce people who for a long time have been doing significant work...I think there are ways to bring that work to the surface and let it have an impact."
Rural schools are an "endangered species," said Jack Murrah, the president of the Lyndhurst Foundation in Chattanooga, Tenn.
"I think rural education suffers from a couple of different stereotypes," he said. "One is a romantic or nostalgic image of a very small school in a small community. But that is a decreasing feature of the current rural-education landscape."
"Most rural kids are being served by a large school that serves a very wide territory," he said, "so kids have long traveling distances to get to these schools."
Mr. Murrah said he hoped the potential for Annenberg funding would sow the seeds for national support of rural students.
All of the proposals for the metropolitan regions were designed to meet a set of guiding principles developed by staff members at the Annenberg Institute.
Mr. Sizer, the Brown University professor who founded the Coalition of Essential Schools, and Vartan Gregorian, the president of Brown, have been advising Mr. Annenberg closely on the project. The principles stress the importance of school-led renewal and of challenging, personalized learning environments for young people.
The plans from Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York all stress smaller and more stable learning communities in which students would have a chance to work more closely with adults. They also stress the equitable distribution of resources so that all students would be held to high standards and a rigorous curriculum.
They would create a more decentralized school system in which most decisions and resources would be dealt with at the school level in exchange for greater accountability.
To accomplish this, they would create clusters or networks of schools that would work with outside partners on reform. Such partners, often referred to as "critical friends," would provide access to resources and help develop models of accountability.
The proposals also stress the importance of professional development and reflection for teachers. The Los Angeles and Chicago proposals include models for pre-service training that emphasize spending more time in schools.
Each of the proposals also spells out how it would move from a limited number of reforming schools that operate largely outside the system to a system that supports large numbers of such schools.
But the attempt to work within the existing bureaucracy varies. The New York proposal would create a separate "learning zone" that would be exempt from most rules in exchange for heightened accountability. In contrast, the Chicago proposal would build on work already under way to restructure and redefine the role of the central office.
The Chicago School Reform Collaborative
Goal: To increase student learning and achievement in the Chicago public schools through improved classroom practices.
- The group will support a significant number of schools working with external partners on educational-improvement plans. Schools and their partners will be encouraged to create networks of schools that can help spread change initiatives.
- Participating schools and partners must commit to a set of guiding principles and to creating more personal learning environments and the restructuring of the school day for both students and teachers.
- Each school will develop a written plan--to be approved by its local school council--that should emphasize improved learning opportunities for students and teachers.
- During the first year, up to 10 partnerships, usually involving a cluster of schools, will receive support. The partnerships--including up to 50 schools--will represent the first wave of Annenberg Challenge schools. The collaborative envisions that within five years there will be an additional 100 such schools.
- A Chicago Teacher Corps--a large group of teacher leaders who are reflective about their practice, engaged in classroom improvement, and capable of teacher-to-teacher mentoring and networking--will be organized and become active throughout the system.
- Each school will create a design team of key stakeholders. The team will develop approaches for collaboration within the school, including "teacher talks," formal seminars, workshops, action-research initiatives, and public forums.
- To encourage collaboration across schools, design teams will participate in an ongoing school-change seminar.
- During the first year of the project, the group will also work on a broader metropolitan strategy that extends beyond the Chicago Public Schools.
- Standards, benchmarks, and measures of school progress will be created during the first year.
- Teachers will develop new student assessments that are performance based and directly connected to curriculum and instruction.
- A school-quality review process based on one used in New York State will be developed to support and sustain a culture of self-inquiry and experimentation in teaching and learning.
- The Chicago board of education has retained a major re-engineering company, CSC Index, to help in the redesign of the schools' central office. A 30-member steering committee, representing all major stakeholders, is working to design and oversee the project.
- The board and the teachers' union, along with the Council for Basic Education, are drawing up broad systemwide learning objectives and new assessments.
- The collaborative expects the Annenberg schools--through negotiation with the central office, union, and state--to be granted maximum authority for purchasing services and spending money; developing new curriculum, instruction, and assessment approaches; using time creatively; developing more personalized learning communities; and building new ways to organize time and institute staff development.
- The board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge is responsible for all fiscal matters and hires the project director.
- The project director, working with the board, organizes the Chicago School Reform Collaborative, representing parents, teachers, principals, and major entities (state, the board of education, union, local school councils) whose policies and authority shape the school system and the broad school-reform community in Chicago.
- The collaborative will serve as a clearinghouse, publicize the challenge, develop the proposal-and-application process, select participating schools, establish working groups, oversee program evaluation, develop the metropolitan strategy, broker waivers and resources, and provide services for networks.
- The Consortium of Chicago School Research, led by Anthony Bryk, will develop a documentation plan.
- The group has requested $49.2 million over five years. It is proposing to match this sum dollar-for-dollar. Schools that participate will be asked to describe how state remedial-education funds will be used to complement Annenberg money.
Note: The above information is based on a draft proposal.
The Los Angeles Metropolitan Project (LAMP)
Goal: To foster high levels of student achievement among all children by creating stable learning communities; and within these communities, to develop high, consistent expectations for adults and students, generate trust, and create measurable indicators of progress.
- The project will support 'families" of schools--to include a high school, middle school, and feeder elementary schools--on the belief that such a grouping can build consistent expectations and approaches to standards, professional development, and assessment.
- Each school will designate an outside partner or sponsor to work with. The Los Angeles Educational Alliance for Restructuring Now, or learn, will be the primary sponsor for all those in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
- Schools must agree to guiding principles that emphasize small, stable communities where students can engage in a broad, intellectually challenging curriculum.
- Each school family must develop a learning plan that includes goals for student achievement, program integration, curriculum development, the use of time in school, consistent and integrated professional development, and community and parent involvement.
- The project will create a dissemination network of 'best practices", convene regionwide working groups on school-reform topics, link all LAMP schools by a computer network, and draw sponsors into one location to promote collaboration.
- The project will operate on the belief that standards have the most impact when developed locally, with stakeholders who will be held accountable.
- Each school and school family must develop independent indicators of student and school progress.
- Common indicators--including progress in student achievement and declines in the rates of violence, disciplinary action, and dropouts--will be used by LAMP to assess progress.
- Districts must make a contract that includes: devolving control of 85 percent of revenue-limited funding to the schools within 12 months of the project's start; shifting similar responsibility for personnel decisions to the schools; demonstrating that they are committed to restructuring their own activities; creating staff-transfer and -rotation policies that increase stability and decrease turnover; and planning to take over the funding of reform for all schools under its purview at the end of the project.
- Unions must agree to waive contract provisions that restrict staff members from participating in broad academic and financial planning or to have the deciding voice in selecting school staffs with other stakeholders.
- Districts will work with systems partners, such as the California Business Roundtable and Workforce L.A., to change the systems that surround schools to better support reform. Their goals will be to: align social services with the aims of the school community; insure teacher training promotes student achievement and the skills needed to reform schools; expand school-to-career programs; and change district practices and culture from regulation to service.
- Potential sponsors include the Achievement Council; the Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards, and Student Testing at the University of California; the Coalition of Essential Schools; 'Urban Universities Collaborative" at California State University; the Galef Institute; the Getty Center for Education in the Arts; LEARN; the Los Angeles County Office of Education; the Los Angeles Educational Partnership; the New American Schools Development Corporation; the University of California at Los Angeles; and the University of Southern California.
- A director and several associate directors, drawn from the ranks of practitioners, will be in charge of the project. The fiscal agent will be a 501(c)3 organization involved in the project, most likely either U.S.C. or U.C.L.A.
- There will be a 19-member board of governors representing community interests and co-investors in the project. Chaired by Steven B. Sample, the president of U.S.C., it will supervise the director, approve disbursements, and establish an evaluation-and-assessment program.
- A community-advisory board of about 30 civic, community, and education leaders from across Los Angeles will serve as a sounding board.
- Requested $50 million over five years.
- Proposing to match this sum one to one with new money generated publicly and privately and the reallocation of existing money to LAMP priorities.
- In general, Annenberg funds will support efforts inside schools--in the form of grants to support learning plans, professional development, and data gathering--and the diffusion of best practices.
- Over the five years of the project, Annenberg support will be replaced by matching funds from public and private sources. This 'weaning" will put reform on a relatively hard-money basis at the end of five years.
Note: The above information is based on a draft proposal.
Goal: To create effective, small schools that support and challenge all students; a less cumbersome system to support such schools; and a blueprint for systemwide reform so that what works for these schools can become the norm.
- Will use networks to support and sustain change. A consortium of sponsoring organizations will create a collaborative of school networks, with a shared advisory group and a shared set of principles.
- To work on the problem of large, overcrowded neighborhood schools that have low graduation and achievement rates, each network will include at least one such school that is being restructured.
- Networks will help schools share expertise and help each other with research and evaluation, curriculum and professional development, getting services into the schools, and providing out-of-school working and learning for students and staff. Schools and networks will serve as pre-service and in-service professional-development centers.
- The project aims, within five years, to have a group of at least 100 schools, serving about 50,000 K-12 students, including at least 50 schools that do not yet exist or will be carved out of existing large schools.
- An independent consortium of university-based researchers and evaluators, along with staff from member schools, will help all schools in the collaborative collect, report, and use information about delivery systems, professional development and practice, equity, community engagement, and student outcomes.
- A shared data base of information collected for every school in the collaborative will be created and maintained.
- Visits among member schools, based on the state's school-quality review program, will foster accountability.
- Will establish a 'learning zone" encompassing the networks of schools. Sponsoring organizations will negotiate for schools in the zone to be released from rules and practices that impede reform in exchange for greater accountability.
- A substantial portion of the state and local per-pupil expenditure will be allocated to each school within the learning zone, with the school deciding how to use the money and making those decisions public in a comprehensive budget.
- Schools will decide whether many functions now handled centrally are necessary and, if so, whether to buy them from the central office, from their network, or from other providers.
- In five years, the zone will be at least as large as any of the city's community school districts. Ultimately, it could provide mechanisms for changing school systems to support learning in a nonbureaucratic governance structure.
- The initial four sponsoring organizations are the Fund for New York City Public Education, the Center for Educational Innovation at the Manhattan Institute, the Center for Collaborative Education, and the New York Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a citizen's advocacy group.
- An advisory group will include key state, school system, and union officials, the mayor's office, other leaders from the public and private sectors, and representatives from the founding sponsoring organizations, networks, and schools. The group will insure the project's integrity and help negotiate changes in school system policies.
- Daily management will reside in a work group with representatives from each sponsoring organization, a project director, and the chancellor's Annenberg fellow, Deborah Meier. The Fund for New York City Public Education will serve as fiscal agent for the grant.
- The collaborative has been awarded a $25 million challenge grant, contingent on raising matching funds; an additional $25 million has been pledged to support other education-reform initiatives that 'reinforce and complement" the work of the networks. The group must raise $2 for every $1 from Annenberg--$1 in private- and $1 in public-sector support. To date, Time Warner Inc. has awarded $5 million; the Aaron Diamond Foundation has awarded $2.5 million.
Note: The above information is based on a draft proposal.