Wow. I'd hate for such a radical idea as smaller schools and increasing school and community involvement to become widespread. What a terrible idea. Sigh.
In fact, the project undertaken in Chicago as part of a high-profile national initiative reflected mainstream thinking among education reformers. The Annenberg Foundation’s $49.2 million grant in the city focused on three priorities: encouraging collaboration among teachers and better professional development; reducing the isolation between schools and between schools and their communities; and reducing school size to improve learning....
And the creation of small schools has continued as a reform strategy nationwide, most recently with major funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Another longer quote, discussing the present day interpretation of the various projects and how off base they are.
Go read the rest of the article. It's very good.
The proposal was backed by letters of support to the Annenberg Foundation from Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar, a Republican, local education school deans, the superintendent of the Chicago public schools, and the heads of local foundations.
“Part of the work was to build a strong community around schools,” said Ms. Hallett, who is now the director of Grow Your Own Illinois, a Chicago-based teacher-recruitment project. “Most of the schools had been isolated for a long time.”
To manage the Annenberg grant and raise the necessary matching funds, the Chicago project was required by the Annenberg Foundation to have a board of directors.
Critics of Sen. Obama assert that Mr. Ayers must have played a role in his selection as the chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Ethics and Public Policy Center, wrote in a Sept. 23 opinion essay in The Wall Street Journal that it was an “unsettled question” how “a former community organizer fresh out of law school could vault to the top of a new foundation.”
Those involved in selecting Mr. Obama, however, say it was precisely that background that attracted them to him.
Mr. Obama, then 33, was an associate at the law firm Davis, Miner, Barnhill and Galland and a member of the board of the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation. He also served, as Mr. Ayers later did with him, on the board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which had financed the Developing Communities Project, a South Side community-organizing project that Mr. Obama ran from 1985 to 1988 before leaving to attend Harvard Law School.
He brought that organizing perspective with him to the new education project, telling the Chicago Tribune in a June 1995 article about the Chicago Annenberg Challenge: “If we’re really going to change things in this city, it’s going to start at the grassroots level and with our children.”