Update: What Next For "The Fund"?

image from www.educationpioneers.orgThe Chicago Public Education Fund is going through a big transition now, looking for a new executive director on the heels of Janet Knupp's departure and switching Board chairs as Penny Pritzker moves to the Chicago Board of Education.  It's also had to evolve over the years with the arrival of the Renaissance Fund and other high-powered education reform organizations in town (Advance Illinois, Stand For Children). "The Fund" isn't just about NBCTs anymore, either, though CPS remains a hotbed of NBCTs among urban school districts nationwide. It claims to have helped upgrade the leadership development process citywide through a blue ribbon task force that suggested revamping the principal eligibility process back in 2008 -- a process some commenters hate (it screens out 70 percent of applicants). The Fund has also supported principal training programs at UIC, New Leaders and Teach for America-Harvard Graduate School of Education Principal Pipeline, which currently supply nearly 30 percent of CPS leaders annually, according to the organization. What direction will it go next, do you think?  Where does it fit in the new lineup of ed reform organizations in Chicago?  

The Chicago Public Education Fund Announces new Chairman, transition plan
The Fund launches search for new CEO, strategic review to
align priorities with new CPS administration
May 25, 2011 - Chicago - The Chicago Public Education Fund ("The Fund"), a private
venture capital fund dedicated to transforming public education in Chicago, announced
today that Brian Simmons will succeed Penny Pritzker as the organization's chairman.
Simmons will lead a strategic review process that will culminate in the hiring of a new
chief executive officer and the development of a revised set of strategic goals for the
nationally recognized non-profit.
After Mayor Rahm Emmanuel asked Pritzker to join the Board of Education for the
Chicago Public Schools, she informed The Fund Board that she would resign her
position as Fund Chairman and director. The Fund Board accepted her resignation at its
regularly scheduled Board meeting on May 17.
A founding director of The Fund, Pritzker became chairman in 2009 and has played an
integral role in shaping strategy and driving investments that have had measurable
impact on the quality of principals and teachers. Most notably, she led The Fund's
overhaul of the CPS principal eligibility process that resulted in some of the toughest
principal hiring standards in the nation. The Pritzker Foundation has donated more than
$4 million to The Fund since its inception in 2000.
"The Fund has been a true catalyst for change in Chicago education," Pritzker said. "It
has been a premier vehicle for private sector investment and involvement in the
improvement of our public schools. I am proud of what we accomplished and look
forward to seeing more great things from The Fund under Brian's leadership."
Simmons, a civic leader and a co-founder and partner of
Simmons said he is excited to lead the organization during this critical time. "We have a
tremendous track record of tangible results that Penny and others established before us.
Everyone on the board believes that The Fund is well-positioned to build upon these
accomplishments and make some dramatic gains for schools and students."
CHS Capital, LLC, has been a
member of The Fund's board since 2007 and most recently served as one of the
organization's Vice Chairmen. He had also chaired the Investment Committee since
2008, which oversees The Fund's programmatic efforts around principal and teacher
hiring and evaluation. Under Simmons' leadership, The Fund spearheaded efforts to
broadly enhance CPS teacher hiring capabilities as well as a new framework for teacher
evaluation that includes more rigorous measures of teaching and outcomes.
In coming months, The Fund will undergo a short strategic review period to gain
consensus among investors and constitu


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  • William "Rick" Johnson was at Fenger

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