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New Philadelphia Partnership Sets $100 Million Goal

With how many grains of salt should one take the proclaimed goal of a new group to make "Philadelphia the highest performing city in the country in terms of educational achievement by 2015?"

It reminds one a bit of those old Soviet five-year plans, in which stupendous growth was always forecast, and progress would always march on.

Let's hope for the best for the new Philadelphia School Partnership—collaboration among business leaders, foundations, city leaders and public, charter, and parochial schools—which was established earlier this month. The new organization, which was launched with $16 million in anonymously given seed money, set a five-year goal to raise $100 million and invest in initiatives to boost student performance.

"The Philadelphia School Partnership speaks, acts, and stands for quality education for the children of Philadelphia, wherever they attend school," said Mike O'Neill, chairman of the partnership's board of directors. "This organization is a public recognition that we share more educational goals than differences and that now, more than ever, Philadelphia has to pull together to support this common agenda."

Beyond the broad vision, it remains to be be seen whether businesses and educators can collaborate well on nuts-and-bolts teaching and learning. But the effort is one of a burgeoning number of public-private partnerships for schools across the country. The Philadelphia partnership's plan is to monitor individual schools' student achievement and invest in the most promising among them. Will this strategy help every child become college-ready, or will it only reinforce schools and students who are already doing well?

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