Transforming Events: A Local Education Fund’s Efforts to Promote Large Scale Urban School Reform
Source: Annenberg Foundation
The Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public Schools (BPE), a local education fund established in 1984, spent its first eleven years awarding grants to Boston, Massachusetts, teachers and schools with the hope of improving teaching and, thereby, student achievement. Convinced that this strategy could not lead to sustainable schoolwide or districtwide improvement, BPE’s Board of Trustees asked the BPE leadership to consider how to better invest in enhancing student achievement in the Boston public schools. BPE then committed all the income from its endowment and raised an additional $3 million, dedicating $4.5 million to a four-year reform initiative it called 21st Century Schools. This approach to whole-school improvement focused on instruction. It was designed to be congruent with the superintendent’s plan for school reform and began in 1996 in twenty-seven (20 percent) of the district’s elementary, middle, and high schools. Shortly after the BPE began its work, Boston became an Annenberg Challenge site, with the BPE designated as a recipient of Annenberg Foundation funds and fiscal agent for the Boston Annenberg Challenge (BAC). Funds were now available for a BAC director, a second cohort of reforming schools, and additional coach support for the 21st Century Schools. In November 1997, the 21st Century Schools’ approach to school improvement was adopted by the Boston School Committee as the model for school reform in all of the district’s schools. Thus in two short years the BPE, which had comprised three staff people and a controller in June 1996, had transformed itself into an organization responsible for directing school reform in a cohort of Boston schools, in partnership with the BPS but formally outside its jurisdiction. In today’s language, the BPE had turned itself into an intermediary organization working in a public/private partnership with the BPE. This case study explores the changes in the BPE–BAC that accompanied its metamorphosis to an intermediary organization.
Keyword: Partnership Strategy
Region: Northern America