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Joint Effort

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To the editors:

I was delighted that the Reader carried a full-page story about the new journal/newsletter on school reform to be published by the Community Renewal Society with support from a consortium of foundations [Hot Type, November 3]. But I would like to set the record straight on one particular point: the genesis and forces which conceived, developed, and are bringing into being this important forum.

To say that the journal idea was "originally" mine or that others joined my "campaign" is incorrect. Several individuals in the city simultaneously conceived of a journal or a newsletter that would share information, offer analyses, and provide a forum for viewpoints on school reform. Staff members of several foundations, including Joe Washington of the MacArthur Foundation, Bill McKersie of the Joyce Foundation, and Al Bennett of the Chicago Community Trust, shared their ideas and strategies. I was but a member of that group. As the article notes, "Months of confabulating followed, as everyone's ideas got mixed together." This mixing continued as the collaborating foundation staff members discussed various ideas with the Community Renewal Society.

While each foundation has its own process for making funding decisions, leadership for this effort has come from all parties. Each organization has contributed to the merits of this joint effort in terms of its own sense of what will serve Chicago. This has been a strength of this group's other collaborative activities. As publication of this important forum begins, we expect to continue this close collaboration of funders with the Community Renewal Society. It is neither fair nor accurate to emphasize any individual's contribution over the genius and strength of collaboration. In that, perhaps, this effort mirrors the best of Chicago school reform.

Peter H. Gerber

John D. and Catherine T.

MacArthur Foundation

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