The Annenberg Challenge: Lessons and Reflections on Public School Reform

Annenberg Foundation



Case Study Sector


The faces of the children peering through the classroom windows on the cover of this report are just some of the 1.5 million children whose lives were touched by the Annenberg Challenge. The Challenge revived and inspired school reform efforts throughout the nation. It set three goals: To improve education in troubled inner-city schools, to bring long overdue assistance to isolated rural schools, and to demonstrate that the arts should be a basic part of every child's education.

But the Challenge was about more than education. It recognized that strengthening public education was vital to preserving the nation's democratic values. Unless every child had an equal opportunity to get a quality education, the promise of America would be broken.

In all, 18 school improvement projects were launched, supported by new partnerships of Americans who had been stirred to action. The Challenge did not work miracles, but it breathed new life into American education. It brought hope to schools that had been all but abandoned. It helped educators who had accepted mediocrity and failure to make a new commitment to excellence. It helped teachers to change their minds about students they thought were doomed to failure. It changed the public's beliefs about what is possible in public education.

Though there is still much more to be done, public schools are better today, and teachers are more prepared to help children meet high standards of learning. The Annenberg Challenge: Lessons and Reflections on Public School Reform is a report on finding and recommendations drawn from the broad experience of project activities. The lessons summarized here can provide a springboard for continued aggressive and comprehensive school reform throughout the nation.



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