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Philanthropies Pose Ed Research, Policy Agenda for Next NYC Mayor

New York City is, by dint of being the nation's largest school district and home to top education universities, a center of gravity for education research and philanthropy.

Now, funders and academics want the next Big Apple administration to understand the lessons to be learned from school initiatives under Michael Bloomberg's time as mayor. Fifteen local and national education philanthropies have launched the Education Funders Research Initiative, under the auspices of the member group Philanthropy New York, to lay out for the next mayor what's known about the effectiveness of New York City's school reforms, from small high schools to certifying college-ready courses.

Ronna D. Brown, the president of Philanthropy New York, said she doesn't anticipate the initiative turning into an ongoing research consortium like the existing Research Alliance for New York City Schools (whose director is one of the initiative's advisory board members). Rather, it seems to be an effort by philanthropies to ensure that the more than $2 billion they've collectively invested in the last decade in encouraging or studying the city's education reforms doesn't get thrown out the window when Bloomberg leaves.

"We're really modeling how stakeholders with divergent viewpoints can come together and work together," Brown told me. "What we want to do is signal to the next administration the willingness of the philanthropic community to be a partner."

As education philanthropies become more directly involved in developing and advocating education policies and reforms, this sort of short-term coalition may become more prevalent, and may raise the profile of education research during local, state or federal elections.

EdFunders.jpgThe initiative yesterday released two initial reports on high school graduation improvements. (You can read the full reports below, and my colleague Jackie Zubrzycki delves into their implications over at District Dossier.) On Oct. 25 and Oct. 30, researchers and practitioners will participate in Twitter chats sponsored by the group about racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps and school choice in the city.

It has already gathered a who's who of New York City education researchers to debate education topics over the next month:

• Claire E. Sylvan, Internationals Network for Public Schools

• David M. Steiner, School of Education, Hunter College, CUNY and CUNY Institute for Education Policy

• James J. Kemple, the Research Alliance for New York City Schools

• James Merriman, New York City Charter Schools Center

• Jeff Henig, Teachers College at Columbia University

• Jennifer O'Day, American Institutes for Research

• John Rogers, University of California, Los Angeles graduate school of education and information studies

• Joseph P. Viteritti, Hunter College, CUNY

• Kim Sweet, Advocates for Children

• Lori Chajet, CUNY Graduate Center

• Sister Paulette LoMonaco, Good Shepherd Services

• Pedro A. Noguera, Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, New York University

• Richard D. Kahlenberg, The Century Foundation

• Robert Balfanz, Johns Hopkins University

• Robert Hughes, New Visions for Public Schools

•Simone D'Souza, New York City Department of Education

• Stacy Ehrlich, University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research

• Warren Simmons, Annenberg Institute for School Reform

The initiative will release its final report Nov. 21, discussing the ways New York City schools have changed under the Bloomberg administration and proposing priorities for the next administration.

   Edfunders Paper #1

   EdFunders Paper #2

Photo: At the launch of the Education Funders Research Initiative in New York City on Tuesday, researchers discuss the effects of New York City education reforms on the city's graduation rate. Source: Education Funders Research Initiative.

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