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4 Urban Districts To Share Professional-Development Funds

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Four urban school districts have been selected to participate in a $4 million effort by the Rockefeller Foundation to design and put into practice new ways of providing professional development.

The grants will go to Albuquerque, N.M.; Flint, Mich.; San Antonio; and San Diego, the New York City-based foundation announced last week. Those cities will use the money to build frameworks for ensuring that adults involved in education are continuously learning new ways to do their jobs. (See Education Week, Feb. 15, 1995.)

"We hope this will lead to better-equipped educators, more teamwork between the school leaders and community leaders, better-informed and more-involved parents, and a commitment to continuous improvement in every school in the district," said Marla Ucelli, the assistant director of the foundation's school-reform program.

The districts will be expected to build systems that support ongoing, comprehensive professional development--a feature often lacking in urban settings.

The foundation also has launched a Learning Communities Network, based in Cleveland, to support reform in the four cities with technical assistance and evaluation and by forging relationships among the districts.

The network expects to function as an information clearinghouse on issues relating to child development, pedagogy, and curriculum and assessment.

A 'Learning Quilt'

Superintendent Diana Lam of the San Antonio schools said she was overjoyed to receive the grant. Each district will receive from $250,000 to $350,000 a year for the life of the two-year projectab which is how long? sd.

As part of San Antonio's application, each of the district's 95 schools made a patch to be sewn into a "learning quilt" demonstrating educators' desire to learn more in behalf of students.

The district has designated "instructional guides" who will manage professional development in each school. These teachers will help educators decide which areas of instruction to work on, Ms. Lam said. They also will work as mentors and instructional coaches.

One-third of the city's grant will be used to reach out to community members and parents and create a network that will help them discuss educational issues. The district also plans to explore how technology can provide information and resources that will improve professional development.

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