The $49.2 million grant awarded to Chicago public schools by the Annenberg Foundation is far more than a generous donation to a worthy cause. It's a badly needed vote of confidence in the schools themselves and in the efforts of those who have worked to reform the system over the last six years.
Moreover, it is quite literally a challenge to the public bodies charged with educating the city's children to join in the commitment to improving the manner in which that is accomplished. The grant, which must be matched by equal amounts from public and private funds, is earmarked for use by individual schools, grouped in "networks," to provide smaller classes, skilled teachers and enhanced learning programs.
The similarities are not coincidental. In announcing the grant Monday , advisers to the Annenberg Foundation called Chicago reform "a major breakthrough from which the nation can learn."