WebExtra: McDougal a key CPS partner in improving middle-grades education

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I am writing to provide further detail on “Building Up the Middle,” (Catalyst Chicago, November 2007). While the reporting and story were comprehensive, providing great detail about the work that is taking place in funding the Cluster 4 Middle Grades Project (C4MGP), one of our key supportive partners was not mentioned. I want to apologize for this and publicly recognize the funding support of the McDougal Family Foundation.

The McDougal Family Foundation has a particular interest in providing middle-grade youngsters with the necessary skills and abilities to make the transition to 9th grade and to be successful in high school. The C4MGP is one of several related initiatives in the McDougal middle-grades portfolio that focus on teaching and learning in the Chicago Public Schools.

In order to discover what factors were critical and what were the necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition to 9th grade, McDougal launched the Transitional Adolescent Literacy Leadership Project, with a primary focus on helping middle-grades youngsters gain important and necessary literacy competencies. A guiding premise is that feeder elementary schools need to be in sync with the area high school in a number of critical ways. This project is led by National-Louis University and involves 6th- through 9th – grade teachers in four elementary schools and a high school.

McDougal is also supporting efforts by Facing History and Ourselves to assist middle- grade teachers in implementing the Choices in Little Rock curriculum, which explores the social justice issues related to the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. in 1957.

Finally, McDougal is supporting the Network for College Success, an initiative directed by the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago that is providing opportunities for leaders of 11 CPS high schools to collaborate in addressing the challenges of preparing students for success beyond high school.

Again, I want to publicly recognize and thank the McDougal Family Foundation for their focused support and partnership as we collaboratively work to “Build Up the Middle.”

Barbara Eason-Watkins

Chief Education Officer

Chicago Public Schools