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The Corporate/Community School is not an effort to privatize education or offer an alternative school of choice, says Walter L. "Bud" Kraus, executive director of Corporate/Community Schools of America (C/CSA), the nonprofit group promoting the effort.

"The mission of this school is to influence meaningful change in public education," Mr. Kraus explains. "Our intention is to provide a laboratory for the public schools to learn from."

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But many public educators are skeptical of outsiders promoting change in the system.

"The first step is to create relationships with local public schools so that they begin to view this school as a resource, as a place where they can gather and share ideas," says Primus Mootry, C/CSA project director.

Six public-school principals in Chicago are already involved. They're working with Elaine Mosley, principal and CEO of the Corporate/Community School, to set up an "instructional skills development" program for all the teachers in their schools.

"We're not asking public educators to clone this school," Dr. Mosley emphasizes. "It's about changing the way in which we think about teaching and learning."

Once the teachers of these six schools begin implementing new ideas in their classrooms, they will start training other teachers, Mosley says.

"Over time, we would expect the vast majority of inner-city schools [in Chicago] to be positively affected by this effort," Mosley says. "We're not saying that we will go and anoint each of these schools, but we are offering some leadership for change."

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