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Principals Seek Links With Businesses To Provide Scholarships and Materials

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Washington--Principals are looking for more business and community partnerships that can provide their students with incentives and their schools with needed equipment, according to a new study by the Education Department.

Released Nov. 18 at the Fifth National Symposium on Partnerships in Education here, the report is based on a survey of 1,500 principals. It will be made available next month.

When principals in the study were asked what types of support they4would most like from partnerships in the future, 52 percent said that student awards, scholarships, and other incentives were most needed.

The preference for such aid was strongest among principals in schools with high poverty rates, according to the report.

Forty-five percent of the principals said that donations of computers, books, and equipment were also a prominent need.

And third on the list, showing particular strength among suburban principals, were partnerships that supply guest speakers and allow school use of the partners' facilities.

Urban principals in the study stressed the need for increased academic tutoring for their students, while rural principals often cited the need for work-study programs or summer-employment opportunities.

In commenting on the survey results, many at the meeting stressed the importance of human involvement and noted that schools often seek out goods and services before money.

"Business has the ability to be a catalyst for change," said Bernard J. McMullan of Public/Private Ventures, a social-policy research organization based in Philadelphia. "But that comes more from actual involvement rather than from donating money."

The survey showed a 5 percent increase over the last five years in the number of partnerships that provide goods and services, rather than money. Programs that provide only funds have decreased by 4 percent, it found, and those that combine the two forms of support have remained level.

"These statistics reflect that the partnership movement is evolving toward more and more personal involvement," the report asserts.

Overall, the number of partnerships has increased, according to the study. In the 1987-88 school year, 40 percent of schools were involved in partnerships, compared with 17 percent five years ago.

"Education partnerships are mushrooming in number," declares the report. "They are reaching more and more students, addressing a wider range of topics, and involving virtually every sector of American society."

More than 9 million students--24 percent of the total public-school enrollment--were involved in one of the 140,800 partnership programs nationwide in the 1987-88 school year.

More than half of those partnerships are with businesses, according to the report, with civic organizations, local universities, and government agencies also joining forces with schools.

About half of the partnerships assist in programs addressing the basic skills--mathematics, science, reading, and writing--while others reach into such areas as career awareness and civic education.

Schools in rural areas lag behind their urban and suburban counterparts in forming partnerships, with only 31 percent reporting such collaboratives. The figure for urban schools is 51 percent.

One way to spur partnership growth in rural areas, symposium participants suggested, would be to initiate statewide collaboratives, such as those established in Florida and Indiana. There, businesses work with the state education department to benefit schools throughout the state, rather than in a specific locality.

The survey also showed that while 46 percent of secondary schools had partnerships, only 36 percent of elementary schools did.

"Right now, one child in four is living in poverty," Nathaniel M. Semple, vice president of the Committee for Economic Development, said during a panel discussion here. "We have to get partnerships to zero in on the earlier years."

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