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Annenberg's 'Challenge'

April 12, 1998

This is to correct the many misstatements in Patrick Reilly's blistering Column Right ("Annenberg's 'Challenge' Is a Bust," April 7), attacking my father's $500-million gift to support and deepen existing school reform efforts in key cities across the country.

In 1994, Los Angeles was awarded the largest single sum--$53 million--and formed the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project. In 1995, LAAMP began awarding grants to local school districts. To date, 226 schools configured into 28 school families (groups of schools, K-12, that are connected from elementary through high school) are participating in the Annenberg Challenge.

It is completely incorrect to suggest that these school families are not willing to be held accountable. Just last November, progress reports from the initial 13 school families were released at a well-attended public reporting event.

Reilly suggests that it would be better to provide scholarships to 1,000 students. How limited is his vision! The challenge in Los Angeles will ultimately impact hundreds of thousands of students. It will enhance their opportunity to compete for higher education and better jobs. Walter Annenberg could easily have spent his money elsewhere--perhaps to have his name etched on the wing of a new concert hall or a museum. Instead, he chose to act on his vision of bringing meaningful improvements to millions of children, not the 1,000 who would be reached by scholarships, or even vouchers.

WALLIS ANNENBERG

Vice President

Annenberg Foundation, L.A.

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