The Annenberg Grant: A Lost Opportunity


I just recently reread The New York Network for School Renewal: A Proposal to the Annenberg Foundation. This was the early 1990s. It was quite amazing. It was approved not only by the Annenbergs, but by the then Chancellor, Mayor, State Commissioner, Board Chairman, President of the UFT, and three partner school-based organizations with rather varied political and educational agendas. We were ready to launch an experimental district of 50,000 students at its maximum and 150 or so schools with fiscal support for five years (nearly 100 schools were already launched). We had agreed upon freedom from all but a few Board, City, State and Union rules, a plan for documentation by both NYU and Teacher College, both ethnographic and statistical. We committed ourselves to serving a population demographically comparable to the city as a whole.

But it never got off the ground because a new Chancellor vetoed it. We got the money—50 million over 5 years—but not the agreed upon autonomies to learn what we needed to learn.

It was a lost opportunity, but it sent me on my way to Boston to join a much smaller and more modest plan developed by the Boston Teachers Union and the Boston Public Schools called the Pilot Project. The Pilot Project was fun, modestly successful, and far less well funded. While it has grown it has lost a lot of its promise as attention shifted to a combination of centralized planning, privatization and anti-union media. I had fun starting a Pilot K-8, Mission Hill, school that is still going strong. No regrets about that. You can see Good Morning Mission Hill on my website and on YouTube for some happy moments.

But we lost the moment to make the case for true accontablity—changes that might change everything that needed changing.





7 Responses

  1. Amazing. Who was the veto human- name… who was Mayor then. And hi! 🙂 Neal 

  2. Recently, I have been reflecting on Annenberg I and II. Many new schools were established. The majority are still open today. While some of the schools turned out to be exemplary, I agree that it was a lost opportunity. Schools were for the most part started by committed and well-meaning educators, parents and community partners. Most were places where a high premium was placed on student personalization and care. But, as the Michelle Fine quote goes, “Hugging aint algebra.” Too few of the schools made significant progress toward ensuring that students were prepared for what would come next in their life and career. The experiment did make a major contribution by informing the early college initiative and other small school efforts based on lessons learned. Still, so much more could have been accomplished.

  3. Interesting. I have been reading myself on all this. Diane Ravitch is expert 🙂 My own background and work (NYC and New Rochelle, Yonkers, etc.) includes Paul Goodman, Peter Schrage, Edgar Z. Friedenberg, Erik Erikson… John Dewey… and recent writers for innovation and reform. I ran communications and District 3 liaison for Ed Gordon at Teachers College, Columbia, and the Educational Testing Service, Inc., Princeton, NJ. Recently, I have tried to be involved with *Imagine*, run by Karin Goldmark at DOE; Brian Fuller is her Chief of Staff, School Planning & Development, NYC DOE.

    Thanks, Neal

    *Neal H. Hurwitz*

    *212-666-6217 Verizon* *646-884-0594 BlackBerry* *917-499-6251 Soraya Zuluaga Correa *

    *New York, New York 10025 * *Medellin* *Israel*

    *Thank you! * *Neal H. Hurwitz on LinkedIn* *Neal Hugh Hurwitz on Facebook *

  4. Sent from my iPod

    Begin forwarded message:

    > From: Joseph Mugivan > Date: October 3, 2020 at 8:49:45 AM EDT > To: > Subject: Re: ICOPElistserv Are Public Schools in Our Future? > > Since most slaves were Irish many were literate and did clerical chores. I was more focused on > The Northern colonies and cities. > Agreed education of slaves was a threat. > The same idea plays out with the beginning of the public schools in the early 20th century where certain narratives were ingrained by the oligarchs. Free thinkers were a threat. > Middle Schools were created to instill factory skills and the Jewish Community were up in arms on the Lower East Side. The use of bells to end periods was also a way of control adopted from the Prussian military model. > The unions have now abandoned personal learning which opens the door for a new virtual paradigm that will eliminate their members as sure as the assembly line did to auto workers as they push for full inoculation of the all. > Sent from my iPod > >>

  5. this is nuts:  Slaves weren’t taught to read or write.  If they were indentured servants they may have had some skills but the number of Irish/Slaves who were literate was minuscule.

    Since most slaves were Irish many were literate and did clerical chores. I

    Ellen Mc Hugh I have my faults, but changing my tune is not one of them. ……..Samuel Beckett, Irish playwright                                  

  6. no s**! Sherlock

    Ellen Mc Hugh When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of algebra.                                                            ——Will Rodgers, American Humorist                                  

  7. fyi *Neal H. Hurwitz*

    *212-666-6217 Verizon* *646-884-0594 BlackBerry* *917-499-6251 Soraya Zuluaga Correa *

    *New York, New York 10025 * *Medellin* *Israel*

    *Thank you! * *Neal H. Hurwitz on LinkedIn* *Neal Hugh Hurwitz on Facebook *

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