April 15, 2015

Leadership in Public Education: Innovating for Impact


Celebrating 15 Years

Fifteen years ago, visionary leaders saw an opportunity to dramatically improve the nation’s third largest school system. With the goal of ensuring a world-class public education for all of Chicago’s children, they founded The Fund – and made a lasting impact on our great city.

The Fund’s 15th Anniversary event celebrated this progress and 15 years of impact in Chicago’s public schools. It highlighted the importance of identifying and supporting talented principals and teachers, and of establishing the conditions in which they can be successful and continue to grow.

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A Dynamic Program

Surrounded by leaders across the city, state and nation, Janet Knupp, The Fund’s founding President and CEO, kicked off the event. She reminded us that The Fund was built upon a single innovative belief: “Better schools are everybody’s business.”

At the top of the program, we were honored to hear from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who shared his continued focus on principal leadership as he begins his second term. Over lunch, attendees heard the stories of individual educators and witnessed the passion they have for finding solutions to the challenges of public schools in Chicago and Illinois.

After lunch, Fund Board Chair Brian Simmons kicked off the second half of the program. He introduced Governor Bruce Rauner, who outlined his education agenda and priorities during a candid Q&A with Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments and a member of The Fund’s Board of Directors. Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett offered closing remarks.

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Our Big Announcement

Leadership matters. And it matters a lot in Chicago’s schools.

Research, and our experience, tells us that whether they are traditional or charter, neighborhood or selective enrollment, world-class public schools require great leadership. And the next phase of our work – at The Fund and as a city – is to make Chicago the best place in the country to lead a public school. Eighteen months ago, we launched Fund 4 to do just that.

At the 15th Anniversary, for the first time, we publicly released the data that is guiding our strategy. Data from surveys and focus groups of district, charter and turnaround principals citywide. This data reflects our best understanding of why principals succeed, why they stay or leave, and how we can all do a better job enabling their success and retention in the schools that need them most.

The result: School Leadership in Chicago: A Baseline Report.

If our baseline principal report tells us one thing, it is this: Great principals want to stay. But they need our support, our trust and our investment every day to make the impossible doable and to continue doing right by the nearly 400,000 students they serve citywide.

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A Collective Effort

If you are not already working with us, we hope you’ll consider joining us over the next four years to more than double the number of great leader s in our city’s public schools. If you are inspired by what you’ve read or what you heard at the event, we hope you will take time to learn more  – meet the Chicago Principal Fellows, get to know our Educator Advisory Committee, and explore our innovative programs.

The progress we’ve made in Chicago over the last 15 years is heartening. And it is proof that a committed, long-term focus on developing talented educators will improve the lives of students in measurable ways.

With your help, and our collective investment, we can and will make Chicago the first city in the country where zip code does not determine destiny and where world-class public schools are available for all.

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