Alan Pifer

While Gardner's standpoint on educational equality was to multiply the channels through which the individual could pursue opportunity and excellence, it was under long-time staff member Alan Pifer, who became acting president in 1965 and president in 1967 (again of both Carnegie Corporation and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching), that the foundation began to respond to the claims by historically disadvantaged groups, including women, for equal opportunity and treatment.

The Corporation developed three interlocking objectives: prevention of educational disadvantage; equality of educational opportunity in the schools; and broadened opportunities in higher education. A fourth objective cutting across these programs was to improve the democratic performance of government. Grants were made to reform state government as the laboratories of democracy, underwrite voter education drives, and mobilize youth to vote, among other measures. Use of the legal system became a tool for achieving equal opportunity in education, as well as redress of grievance, and the Corporation joined the Ford and Rockefeller foundations and others in supporting educational litigation by civil rights organizations. It also launched a multifaceted program to train black lawyers in the South for the practice of public interest law and to increase the legal representation of blacks.

Maintaining its commitment to early childhood education, the Corporation supported the application of research knowledge in experimental and demonstration programs - programs that subsequently provided strong evidence of the positive long-term effects of high-quality early education, particularly for the disadvantaged. An influential study upholding the value of early education was the Perry Preschool Project of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. Its 1980 report on the progress of sixteen-year-olds who had been enrolled in the experimental preschool programs was crucial in safeguarding Project Head Start at a time when federal social programs were being scaled back.

During this period, the foundation also promoted educational children's television, launching the Children's Television Workshop, producer of Sesame Street and other noted children's educational programs. Growing recognition of the power of television as an educator prompted formation of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television, whose recommendations were adopted in the Public Broadcasting Act of 1968 establishing the public broadcasting system. Among the many reports on American education financed during this time, including Charles E. Silberman's acclaimed Crisis in the Classroom (1971), undoubtedly the most controversial was Christopher Jencks' Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effect of Family and Schooling in America (1973). The timing of this report, which confirmed quantitative research (e.g, the Coleman Report) showing a weak relationship of public school resources to educational outcomes, corresponded with the foundation's burgeoning interest in improving the effectiveness of schools.

Reentering South Africa in the mid-1970s, the Corporation worked through universities to increase the legal representation of blacks and build the practice of public interest law. At the University of Cape Town, it established the Second Carnegie Inquiry into Poverty and Development in Southern Africa, this time to examine the legacies of apartheid and make recommendations to nongovernmental organizations for actions commensurate with the long-run goal of achieving a democratic, interracial society.

The influx of nontraditional students and "baby boomers" into higher education prompted formation of the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education (1967), supported under the aegis of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (CFAT). (In 1972, the CFAT became an independent institution after experiencing three decades of restricted control over its own affairs.). In its more than ninety reports, the commission made detailed suggestions for introducing more flexibility into the structure and financing of higher education. One outgrowth of the commission's work was creation of the federal Pell grants program offering tuition assistance for needy college students.

The Corporation promoted the Doctor of Arts "teaching" degree as well as various off-campus undergraduate degree programs, including the Regents Degree of the State of New York and Empire State College. The foundation's combined interest in testing and higher education resulted in establishment of a national system of college credit by examination (College-Level Entrance Examination Program of the College Entrance Examination Board). Building on its past programs to promote the continuing education of women, the foundation made a series of grants for the advancement of women in academic life. Two other study groups formed to examine critical problems in American life were the Carnegie Council on Children (1972) and the Carnegie Commission on the Future of Public Broadcasting (1977), the latter formed almost ten years after the first commission

Text courtesy of Carnegie Collections at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University