The Chicago Public Education Fund Is Betting Bigger Than Ever Before on Principal Training

Credit: Eric E Castro via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)Over the past couple years, we’ve followed what's been happening with the Chicago Principal’s Fellowship, which is one of the biggest efforts of the Chicago Public Education Fund. We’ve asked questions like whether better principals really lead to better schools, and if principal training programs are really making a difference in the city. Well in short, the answers to these questions seems to be yes, as the Fund is expanding its principals program to build off recent successes.

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The third round of the Chicago Principals Fellowship, which takes place at Northwestern University, will expand from 20 principals now to 25. This number will also include five charter school principals. But not only is the fund expanding its own principal fellowship program, it’s also paying $126,000 for the expansion of a national fellowship to include more Chicago principals than ever before.

This is called the Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Principals at Teachers College of Columbia University. Traditionally, no more than two Chicago principals were able to participate in this prestigious fellowship, but with the fund’s new grant money, eight Chicago principals have been accepted. Chicago principals will be joined by principals from New York City and Newark, New Jersey here to enhance leadership skills and complete capstone projects back at their own schools that can hopefully lead to replicable policy and practice changes.

Back in 2014, the fund made a $500,000 three-year commitment to its own fellowship. But based on the positive feedback, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a renewed and even stronger commitment next year to keep the momentum going. The fund’s five-year $20 million effort to double the number of top-performing principals in Chicago’s public schools extends through 2018.

Studies and surveys continue to show that enriching professional leadership opportunities can improve the quality of academic principals and help retain them. Other support for this effort has come from the Crown Family, and effective leadership of principals and teachers continues to be a key part of Crown’s local education strategy.  

Heather Y. Anichini, President and CEO of the Chicago Public Education Fund shared in a press release:

In our 2016 Principal Engagement Survey, 78 percent of principal respondents said they wanted to be involved in key policy decisions at the city level. Through these fellowships, our city’s top principals can help shape policies and programs that positively impact students and school communities. We believe that expanding opportunities like these will help keep Chicago’s top principals in the public schools that need them most.

To date, 41 principals from Chicago’s public schools have participated in the fund’s fellowship. You can view a list of the principals that are part of the 2016-2017 Chicago Principals Fellowship and Cahn Fellows Program here, along with the schools they work for in the city.

A few recent posts on the Chicago Public Education Fund’s blog give further insights into how this hyper-focused group is working in this niche space of education funding.