Designs for Change
In the 1970s, one time Communist Party USA leader, Earl Durham joined with Dr. Donald Moore as a founding member of Designs for Change, a group committed to changing the Chicago school system for the betterment of all students.
Durham was active in writing the Chicago School Reform Act of 1988, which shifted decision-making and improvement efforts to the school level and created Chicago's unique Local School Councils.
Chicago school reform
An innovative school reform bill was announced March 18, 1985 by three Chicago legislators, Rep Carol Moseley Braun (D-25)Rep: Al Ronan (D-l2), and Sen. William Marovitz (D-3)' described the Urban School Improvement Act as "the single most important step we can take to solve the Chicago school crisis."
According to an article in the Communist Party USA paper, Daily World, by Mildred Williamson, under the proposed legislation, each local Chicago school must establish a School Improvement Council made up of equal numbers of parents and school staff. This council then develops a three-year plan for improving basic skills instruction, cutting dropout and truancy rates, and improving preparation for further education and for employment.
Schools with a developed plan will be given $100 per student to help them carry their plan out, and they decide how this additional money will be spent.
This bill as well as many other aspects of "building unity for struggle" to improve the schools was discussed at a conference of300 parents and community activists on Saturday, March 16. 1985, The three legislators were present, along with Mayor, Harold Washington, who gave the morning address.
The Schoolwatch conference was held at Whitney Young High School on Chicago's West Side, The primary purpose of the conference was to acquaint parents with their rights in the Chicago Public School System, and prepare them "to struggle for much, needed improvements."
Dr. Donald Moore, executive director of Designs For Change, explained why they have strongly recommended this program.
"Independent evaluations show that it, has brought major improvements in California schools. Because of its success, the program has been extremely popular. Groups ranging from the California' Parent Teacher Association to California's American Federation of Teachers have lobbied for the program from the beginning and want it expanded".