Reading & Literacy

Consortium Forming to Keep The Concord Review in Business

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — April 10, 2007 2 min read
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The founder of The Concord Review is turning to private schools and other donors to keep the renowned student-written history journal afloat after its primary sponsor pulled its funding. And a growing number of such benefactors are accepting his invitation to join a consortium he has set up to ensure the journal’s survival.

Ten private organizations and schools have already pledged $5,000 each for their place in the consortium announced last month, which will set policy for the journal and guide its direction, including the selection of a successor to the founding editor when he retires in 2010. Mr. Fitzhugh is also recruiting public school representatives.

“This is not just for subvention of a journal; this is to support the attention we give to the actual academic work of high school students,” said Will Fitzhugh, who started the scholarly journal in 1988 to recognize students’ outstanding research papers in history, most of them reaching 5,000 words or more. Although Mr. Fitzhugh, 70, has won praise from education scholars and school improvement advocates for emphasizing the value of rigorous academic work and high expectations for secondary students, he has been unable to secure stable financial support for the quarterly publication.

The Concord Review has published more than 750 papers over the past two decades, submitted by private and public school students from around the country and 34 other nations.

One private school headmaster jumped at the opportunity to have his school represented in the consortium. Brian R. Wright of the Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, Mass., was the first to answer the call.

“The review and the other organizations and prizes [Mr. Fitzhugh] supports form the core for a wide-ranging endorsement of excellence in writing,” Mr. Wright wrote to his peers at other independent schools last month, urging them to join as well. “I think there is great potential for all our independent schools to articulate our belief in the importance of writing by supporting his effort to extend the reach of his current programs and to ensure the viability of The Concord Review for years to come.”

Mr. Fitzhugh’s other programs include the National Writing Board, which reviews students’ research papers for a small fee and provides a detailed rating for submission with college applications. The former high school history teacher also founded the National History Club, which has chapters in 40 states and is now an independent organization.

The Eight Schools Association, a group of elite private schools in New England, is expected to take up the consortium proposal soon. And an elderly fan of the journal has also made a donation toward the $200,000 Mr. Fitzhugh needs to keep the journal going.

More information is available on the Web at www.tcr.org.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 11, 2007 edition of Education Week

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