Foundation disputes story

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The MacArthur Foundation has a long history of involvement and investment in reform and improvement of the Chicago Public Schools. As such, we are pleased to see the substantial interest in such efforts by local and other national foundations. (“Chicago-style reform sells,” Catalyst, May 2006) It is a testament to Mayor Daley and Arne Duncan’s leadership and demonstrates confidence in their ability to continue to identify and pursue proven and promising approaches to providing a better education for all children.

The characterization of MacArthur’s current involvement and support of district efforts is, however, inaccurate. A $2 million grant to the University of Chicago’s Center for Urban School Improvement is the initial investment in a network of 20 new well-supported Renaissance 2010 schools. This money helps teachers and students use technology in new ways and provides intensive development for teachers, principals, and student support staff.

Currently, the schools in the network include Urban Prep, Donoghue, North Kenwood Oakland, the new University of Chicago charter high school in Woodlawn, Ace Charter Tech High School, Global Alliance Preparatory School, and the new Perspectives Charter at Calumet. The foundation also supports summer institutes and professional training for all principals in Instructional Area 15 (Hyde Park) and training for literacy teachers across Area 15 schools. We also are providing resources to the Chicago Teachers Union to implement its partnership with CPS in the Fresh Start Schools. Finally, MacArthur funds are helping CPS launch its 2006 pilot summer initiative.

We believe that this is evidence of our continued engagement in the critical task of improving our schools and not of a foundation that has “stepped back from …CPS initiatives.”

Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.

Jonathan F. Fanton

President, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation