Ten Urban School Districts Win Carnegie Corporation of New York Schools for a New Society Competition, A $40 Million Long-Term Initiative Focused on Urban High Schools


After a rigorous invitational competition, ten school district-community partnerships across the country have emerged as winners of the first phase of Carnegie Corporation of New York’s new long-term initiative to promote city-wide reform of urban high schools called Schools for a New Society. Chosen from a field of 21 invited school districts, the ten cities are awarded 15-month planning grants, up to $250,000 each, to be used by coordinated groups of community stakeholders who forged the winning partnership.

Upon completion of strategic plans for all city high schools, five of the ten will be invited into the second phase of the initiative that will fund implementation of the plans. Beginning in the fall of 2001 when the second phase is launched, Carnegie Corporation anticipates committing $40 million over five years in direct grants, which will require a one-to-one match from public or private funds.

"Every student in America is entitled to attend a good high school in order to be prepared for the world of the 21st century," says Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York. "They are owed a high performance education where much is offered and much is expected. We don’t expect instant success in turning around every low-achieving high school in each of the ten cities, but we are determined to help build the will that believes no student can be written off. To do less would be to abdicate the Corporation’s role as a leader in education reform."

"While most cities have a few excellent, competitive and magnet high schools, too many students still attend large, impersonal, poorly performing comprehensive schools," says Michele Cahill, Carnegie Corporation senior program officer. Cahill, a nationally recognized youth development expert and educator, created the initiative and will lead the Corporation’s long-term effort. "With this initiative, Carnegie Corporation will encourage and support the development of high schools for all students where there is effective teaching and learning, where students are invested in their own education and support their peers to achieve, and where there are clear pathways to higher education, careers and community participation."

The goal of Schools for a New Society is to effect sweeping, large-scale reform based on new ideas for secondary education and revised expectations of teachers, students, parents, administrators and curriculum. The school district-community partnerships selected to participate in the first phase of the initiative were chosen for their potential to overcome entrenched barriers to change, ignore outdated assumptions and identify creative solutions to chronic problems.

The unique city partnerships, involving the school boards, unions, elected officials, business and higher education leaders, community organizations, principals, teachers, parents and students, will spend the next year developing collaborative and visionary plans for improving all high schools in the district. Schools for a New Society will touch the lives of approximately 168,000 students and involve almost 125 high schools. The student populations are diverse, representing the changing demographics of America's cities. They include African American, Latino, White, Asian and Native American students with significant numbers of students whose families immigrated to the United States from Central and South America, China and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

The ten partnerships chosen for funding include:


The Boston Partnership includes the Boston Public Schools, the Boston Plan for Excellence, the Boston Private Industry Council, the Boston Higher Education Partnership, Jobs for the Future and the teachers union. Work groups of teachers, principals, students, parents and leaders of community-based organizations will focus on specific aspects of reform, including small learning communities. The Partnership is focused on creating better linkages with college and work for the city’s 17,700 students at its 18 high schools.


The Hamilton County Schools and the Public Education Fund, which successfully led the community planning process for a successful merging of the city and county school systems in 1996, will lead the high school reform effort that will involve a wide range of leadership throughout the community. The Hamilton County School system includes 16 high schools that serve 12,322 students. The Public Education Fund will manage the planning process.


The Houston Independent School District, the largest district in Texas and seventh largest in the country and which serves nearly 50,000 high school students each year, has made great strides at the elementary and middle school levels over the past several years. Through a partnership with the Houston Annenberg Challenge, which will manage the effort, city leadership at all levels will focus on accelerating change at its 23 large comprehensive high schools. Teams of students, teachers and parents will work at the school and city-wide levels, to redesign schools and raise expectations for student achievement and school effectiveness.


Partners with the Indianapolis Public Schools in the high school reform planning effort are the National Urban Alliance, the Indianapolis Public Schools Education Foundation, the Mayor, Board of Education members, the Chamber of Commerce, Indiana University, the Urban League, the United Way’s Bridges to Success Initiative, other business and civic groups, and principals, teachers and students. The partnership, which will be managed by the National Urban Alliance, aims to transform its five comprehensive high schools so that their 9,283 students have the same opportunities as students in the successful magnet high schools created by the district.


The momentum for high school reform in Little Rock is grounded in the recent successful middle school change undertaken as a partnership between the school district and New Futures, a non-profit organization that works to improve outcomes for youth. In reforming the city’s five high schools, New Futures will coordinate a broader partnership, including the Superintendent, Mayor, business and civic leaders, university and technical college officials, directors of grassroots organizations and the United Way, parents, and clergy. Currently 6,740 students attend Little Rock high schools.


Portland Public Schools is the largest urban school system in the Northwest, and over 90 percent of school-aged children in Portland attend public schools. Recently, a coalition of community, business and education leaders agreed on a five year vision and strategic plan that provides a strong framework for reforming the district's 12 high schools that serve 13,800 students. The partnership, which includes the Mayor, County Executive, Director of the Multnomah County Progress Board, Superintendent of Schools, President of the Chamber of Commerce, and the Dean of the Graduate School of Education at Portland State University, will be managed by Portland Public Schools Foundation.


The Providence School Department has a new district-wide action plan, Rekindling the Dream, that lays a groundwork for reform throughout the district. This new partnership focused on reforming the city’s six high schools which serve 5,980 students from diverse backgrounds, will involve the Northeast Educational Lab and the Annenberg Institute for School Reform both at Brown University, Health and Education Leadership for Providence (HELP), the Rhode Island Department of Education and the Providence Teachers Union as well as school and city leaders. HELP will manage the partnership.


Sacramento Public Schools have made significant gains at the elementary and middle school level since 1995 and will build on that for transforming high school education. Sacramento's eight high schools serve 12,958 students. The coordinating agency for the city’s reform partnership, Linking Education and Economic Development (LEED), will involve community leaders, the City Manager, California’s Department of Education, faith-based organizations and business leadership.


The San Diego Unified School District serves 31,300 students and has 18 high schools that will be part of a strong literacy and mathematics reform movement . The partnership includes San Diego Reads, the Foundation for the Improvement of Mathematics and Science Education, the University of San Diego School of Education, the College of Education at San Diego State University, San Diego Dialogue (an organization facilitating community forums about education) and the San Diego Business Roundtable. The San Diego partnership will be managed by San Diego Reads through the San Diego Foundation.


The newly-formed Worcester Education Partnership represents a culmination of several years of civic engagement with the Worcester Public Schools and will focus its attention on Worcester's 7,500 high school students at six high schools. The Partnership joins together the Worcester Public Schools, Clark University’s Hiatt Center for Urban Education with a team of students, parents, teachers and principals, community leaders, several universities and colleges, the Chamber of Commerce, businesses, unions, churches, museums, youth development organizations and the State Education Reform Commission. Clark University will manage the partnership.

In February 2000, the Corporation invited 21 leading urban school districts with a record of district and civic leadership for school reform to complete requests for proposals. To qualify for the competition, districts had to demonstrate the ability to forge broad-based partnerships that welcomed businesses, universities, parent groups, youth development agencies and community-based organizations. They also had to designate a coordinating agency to manage the work of the partnership and demonstrate their ability to raise matching funds. 

The proposals were reviewed by Corporation staff and by a panel of external education and youth development experts. "They were evaluated on the basis of the depth of their analysis of current problems and the quality and scope of their vision, ideas and goals," explains Cahill. "All the winning partnerships indicated a political will to pursue change and had a wide enough group of individuals and institutions involved in the process to implement that change." Corporation staff will provide ongoing monitoring and technical assistance to the partnership planning efforts and support a learning network for communication with and among key contacts in each region.

"This is a real boost for Boston. Our high schools must prepare all of our young people to compete in the knowledge-based work force -- and to prepare them to be skilled in conflict resolution," says Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "Public education should ensure that all students master necessary technical, communication skills, but also to ready them to be civic-minded, tolerant citizens, engaged in public life."

"The Indianapolis Public Schools system is committed to improving on its past successes and making substantive changes to achieve excellence in its secondary schools, " says Mayor Brad Peterson of Indianapolis. "I am pleased that Carnegie Corporation has recognized our efforts to improve our schools and prepare our students for the future. This grant will focus the community and the school leadership. Everyone stands to win."

Superintendent Diana Lam of Providence, Rhode Island says, "Restructuring all of our city’s high schools is a tremendous opportunity and a daunting challenge. Providence is ready to meet it. More importantly, our high school students are ready and willing to help shape a new kind of education that is more a part of the ‚real world’ and more a part of the community. Though bound by tradition and ritual, high schools must change or they are in danger of becoming obsolete."

"Schools for a New Society presents us with the opportunity to focus specifically on achieving effective high schools for all of Houston’s students," says Rod Paige, Superintendent of Houston’s schools. " We have a strong partnership of business, higher education, civic and community leadership working with our principals, teachers, parents and students themselves to redesign high schools to ensure that every student can build the competence and gain the confidence needed for success." 

"Keeping student needs at the forefront, the Schools for a New Society initiative acknowledges that high school reform requires controversial decisions and a balance of competing interests," says Tom Payzant, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools. "School districts need broad and deep support to get the job done, and this powerful collaboration vastly increases our chances for success."

Phase two of the initiative, in which the Corporation expects to select five of the ten urban school-community partnerships for a long-term urban school reform process, is targeted for fall 2001. The five will receive funding to begin implementing the plans crafted during phase one. Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie’s vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in the world." The Corporation’s capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $1.7 billion on September 30, 1999. The Corporation awards grants totaling approximately $60 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development, democracy, and special projects.

For more information about the school district partnerships contact:
Ellen C. Guiney, Executive Director, Boston Plan for Excellence in the Public School
Thomas W. Payzant, Superintendent, Boston Public Schools

Daniel D. Challener, President, Public Education Foundation
Dr. Jesse B. Register, Superintendent, Hamilton County Schools

Linda Clarke, Executive Director, Houston Annenberg Challenge
Rod Paige, Superintendent, Houston Independent School District

Karen Showalter, Executive Director, Indianapolis Public Schools Education Foundation, Inc.
Duncan N. P. Pritchett, Jr., Superintendent, Indianapolis Public Schools
Eric Cooper, Executive Director, National Urban Alliance for Effective Education 
Teachers College, Columbia University

Little Rock
Don Crary, Executive Director, New Futures for Youth, Inc.
Leslie V. Carnine, Superintendent, Little Rock School District

Cynthia Guyer, Executive Director, Portland Public Schools Foundation
Benjamin O. Canada, Superintendent, Portland Public Schools
503-916-2000; 503-916-3200

Hillary Salmons, Vice President of Program Development, Health & Education Leadership for 
Providence (H.E.L.P.)
401-461-0946; 401-941-3330
Diana Lam, Superintendent, Providence Public Schools
401-456-9211, ext. 212; 213

Brenda Gray, Executive Director, LEED-Sacramento
Jim Sweeney, Superintendent, Sacramento City Unified School District

San Diego
Scott Himelstein, Executive Director, San Diego Reads
619-297-4804; 800-973-3731
Anthony Alvarado, Chancellor of Instruction
Alan Bersin, Superintendent, San Diego Unified School District
619-725-5525; 619-293-8418

Thomas Del Prete, Jacob Hiatt Center for Urban Education, Clark University
508-793-7197; 508-793-7711
James A. Caradonio, Superintendent, Worcester Public Schools